Remote tourism operators will be able to host clients from outside the NWT for the 2021 summer season under certain conditions.

Operators can host non-resident clients if they can show that business can be carried out with minimal or no contact between travellers and NWT residents who are not employees of the operations, the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) said in a news release on April 21.

In the NWT there are about 60 remote tourism operators, defined as businesses that provide fully self-contained tour experiences, where clients, staff and workers don’t rely on commercial accommodation or food services within a community, except while in transit.

The announcement follows confidential workshops held on April 19 and 20 between health officials and remote operators to provide advance notice on the tourism changes so they could plan accordingly.

READ MORE: GNWT meets with tourism operators ahead of health order changes

Those operators must submit to the OCPHO a Remote Tourism Operators COVID-19 Operations Plan which details how operators will reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission in the NWT.

The plans also must show how operators transport workers and clients in and out of remote locations; how COVID-19-related illness is handled in a remote location; medical extraction and medical capacity on site; resources for on-site isolation, support and care for staff and clients; other mitigation plans for COVID-19 related risks; and supporting and ensuring client compliance with existing public health measures.

Anyone entering the NWT must still submit a self-isolation plan but clients visiting remote tourism spots will be regarded as self-isolating at the sites instead of at one of the isolation hubs. Their remote nature means contact with residents and communities will be minimal.

It is possible some visitors will not be Canadian citizens as the GNWT does not have the authority to restrict international travel into the territory.

“Tourism in the NWT was the first industry affected by COVID-19 and has been the hardest hit,” said NWT Tourism board chairperson Harold Grinde. “We are grateful to our partners at the GNWT, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, the OCPHO, and particularly the COVID Secretariat, for their assistance in finding a way to resume some tourism activities while protecting the health of the residents of the NWT.”

Premier Caroline Cochrane said the GNWT is pleased to announce changes that take into account the NWT’s social and economic recovery.

“This is especially important for areas hardest hit by the pandemic, like the tourism sector,” she said. “Through collaboration and partnership with Indigenous leadership, community governments, and partners like NWT Tourism, we are committed to working on the social and economic recovery of the NWT. Today is one step forward in what we hope will be a number of changes in the coming months.”

Health Minister Julie Green acknowledged that even though public health measures have helped control the spread of COVID-19, they have also challenged tourism operators.

But as the vaccination campaign progresses, the changes for remote operators “strike the right balance between protecting NWT residents from this virus and supporting remote tourism operators.”

Scheduled overnight layovers necessary for clients to transit to remote sites can only happen in Yellowknife, Hay River, Inuvik, Fort Smith, Fort Simpson and Norman Wells.

emote tourism operators will be able to host clients from outside the NWT for the 2021 summer season under certain conditions.

Operators can host non-resident clients if they can show that business can be carried out with minimal or no contact between travellers and NWT residents who are not employees of the operations, the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) said in a news release on April 21.

In the NWT there are about 60 remote tourism operators, defined as businesses that provide fully self-contained tour experiences, where clients, staff and workers don’t rely on commercial accommodation or food services within a community, except while in transit.

The announcement follows confidential workshops held on April 19 and 20 between health officials and remote operators to provide advance notice on the tourism changes so they could plan accordingly.

READ MORE: GNWT meets with tourism operators ahead of health order changes

Those operators must submit to the OCPHO a Remote Tourism Operators COVID-19 Operations Plan which details how operators will reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission in the NWT.

The plans also must show how operators transport workers and clients in and out of remote locations; how COVID-19-related illness is handled in a remote location; medical extraction and medical capacity on site; resources for on-site isolation, support and care for staff and clients; other mitigation plans for COVID-19 related risks; and supporting and ensuring client compliance with existing public health measures.

Anyone entering the NWT must still submit a self-isolation plan but clients visiting remote tourism spots will be regarded as self-isolating at the sites instead of at one of the isolation hubs. Their remote nature means contact with residents and communities will be minimal.

It is possible some visitors will not be Canadian citizens as the GNWT does not have the authority to restrict international travel into the territory.

“Tourism in the NWT was the first industry affected by COVID-19 and has been the hardest hit,” said NWT Tourism board chairperson Harold Grinde. “We are grateful to our partners at the GNWT, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, the OCPHO, and particularly the COVID Secretariat, for their assistance in finding a way to resume some tourism activities while protecting the health of the residents of the NWT.”

Premier Caroline Cochrane said the GNWT is pleased to announce changes that take into account the NWT’s social and economic recovery.

“This is especially important for areas hardest hit by the pandemic, like the tourism sector,” she said. “Through collaboration and partnership with Indigenous leadership, community governments, and partners like NWT Tourism, we are committed to working on the social and economic recovery of the NWT. Today is one step forward in what we hope will be a number of changes in the coming months.”

Health Minister Julie Green acknowledged that even though public health measures have helped control the spread of COVID-19, they have also challenged tourism operators.

But as the vaccination campaign progresses, the changes for remote operators “strike the right balance between protecting NWT residents from this virus and supporting remote tourism operators.”

Scheduled overnight layovers necessary for clients to transit to remote sites can only happen in Yellowknife, Hay River, Inuvik, Fort Smith, Fort Simpson and Norman Wells.

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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  1. What about residents of the United States. Does this apply to them or only canadian citizens.

    Lost our trip for first time in 20+ years last year and anxious to see if this may lead to the same pass for non-Canadian citizens at the border.