NWT Tourism believes Mexico could be the next emerging market as officials try to hit a target of 137,000 annual visitors by 2020-21.

Just over 112,000 visitors came to the NWT in 2017-18, the territory announced earlier this month – a record.

In seeking the additional 25,000 people needed to hit its target in three years’ time, NWT Tourism told local operators on Thursday: “Stay tuned for Mexico.”

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Delivering an update at NWT Tourism’s annual conference in Yellowknife, Cathie Bolstad – the organization’s chief executive – said: “We’re looking forward to doing a little exploring around [Mexico] in 2019.

“That may be a new market that comes into the Northwest Territories.”

NWT Tourism is working to finalize a funding agreement with economic development agency CanNor to finance initial evaluation of Mexicans’ appetite for visiting the territory.

Meanwhile, Sheila Bassi-Kellett – the City of Yellowknife’s senior administrator – said her city could be doing more to attract American tourists at a time when United States residents appear less eager to travel overseas.

“It’s time we focused on the US market a little more,” she said.

Bassi-Kellett made the remark while presenting the City’s own tourism plans, including the creation of a destination marketing organization for Yellowknife, funded by the imminent introduction of an accommodation levy paid by hotel guests.

Legislative changes enabling the introduction of such a levy were recently passed, though a series of exemptions – such as for territorial government workers travelling on business – will mean levy revenue does not reach the figure initially hoped-for by the City.