Cathie Bolstad will leave her role as CEO of NWT Tourism at the end of December, after her resignation was accepted by the board of the directors, the agency stated Monday.
“Cathie has advised that she will be leaving NWT Tourism … to pursue new projects and passions,” said Harold Grinde, chairperson of NWT Tourism.
Bolstad joined the organization as CEO in 2014 and worked to raise the profile of tourism in the territory. She created new opportunities for Indigenous tourism partners, enhanced the agency’s marketing strategies, established international links and helped with solutions for strengthening tourism amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“NWT Tourism’s overall destination marketing budget grew from $3.2 million to $4.4 million (37.5 per cent over six years),” Grinde said. “This reflects the trust and confidence by our key partners, the GNWT and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) in the project proposals put forward under Cathie’s leadership.”
“I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight that the most recent measure for tourism visitation and visitor spend issued by the GNWT showed that in 2018-19 the NWT hosted 120,130 visitors who directly spent $210.3 million dollars in the territory. Visitation to our territory has grown 42 per cent over the past five years and visitor spend has grown by 43 per cent over the same period.”
Also under Bolstad’s tenure, the agency’s Secrets Campaign was named a national tourism marketing award finalist by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.
In a statement provided to NNSL Media, Bolstad said her personal and professional journey at NWT Tourism has been spectacular over the last six years.
“I’ve been fortunate to have worked with so many wonderful people in the tourism and hospitality industry here in the NWT, in Canada and internationally,” she said. “I had planned to leave at the end of this year and in January had said to our chairman that visitor numbers and visitor expenditures were going to be the best ever for 2019 and that I couldn’t wait for the GNWT to announce those numbers a bit later in 2020 as I hoped to go out with a big bang.
“Covid-19 was not the big bang that I was talking about! I had to really think hard about the impacts of Covid on our industry and whether I should implement my plan to depart. I have put off my plan a few times now, so I am getting on with it. As I prepare to depart, I am confident that NWT Tourism has a solid plan in place to navigate this pandemic successfully. A new leader will bring fresh ideas and new energy and those will be important ingredients for success in rebuilding the tourism industry here.”
The board aims to hire a new CEO before the year is over.