Three tourism projects in Yellowknife received a welcome visit from the federal government on Thursday.
The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) awarded $250,000 in total to three entities – Jackpine Paddle, Snowking’s Winter Festival, and the City of Yellowknife – for “innovative and forward-looking” projects to grow the territory's tourism sector.
The NWT's Liberal MP, Michael McLeod, said: "There is tremendous economic development potential sharing the unique appeal of the territory with the rest of Canada and the world."
The announcement was made at the City of Yellowknife’s temporary visitors centre, on the ground floor of City Hall, in front of a large, mounted polar bear.
The City will use its share of the money for a two-year project to improve visitor experiences.
That includes installation of multilingual, interactive wayfinding maps in public areas to make it easier for visitors to tour the city. It will also see an improved city website and mobile app, along with “enhanced branding materials” for distribution to local businesses.
Mayor Rebecca Alty said in order for visitors to have a positive experience, “attractive, informative” signage is needed at key locations around the city.
“By providing wayfinding information in multiple languages, and integrating digital components such as Pingstreet and a web-based itinerary builder, visitor experiences will be enhanced and local businesses will benefit from increased visibility,” she said.
“Having travelled to many countries where I don’t speak the language, I know how beneficial it is to have those signs in your own language.”
Dan Wong, owner of Jackpine Paddle, a canoe and kayak outfitter that offers camps and guided tours, thanked the federal fund for "investing in our goal and our dream."
Wong, who has in the past complained that he feels companies based outside the NWT dominate the territory's paddling industry, said he wants to "give clients a choice to come north and sign up for a paddling expedition with a northern-owned company, with guides who grew up here and can share their love of this land with our clients.
“There is a lot of excitement about (the tourism) industry as we work to build an economy that’s built to last.”
In addition to the federal cash, the City will add $51,000 and $30,000 will come from the territorial government.
The Snowking, otherwise known as Anthony Foliot, said the festival was "really grateful."
“When the city says we’re a winter city," said Foliot, "we should have something to represent that.”
The festival has brought on an executive director for this year's festival and introduced a range of new tour and merchandise options for tourists, as it seeks to expand its activities.