Hay River’s new tourism strategy will aim to make the town better-looking and address a lack of local tour operators.
The strategy, presented to town councillors on Monday, will also seek to improve a range of Hay River’s infrastructure in a bid to attract more “rubber tire tourists’ to the community.
The overarching vision is for Hay River “to be recognized as an essential tourism hub and destination of choice for diversified rubber tire-based tourism within the Northwest Territories.”
No budget is provided in the document, but more than 20 different actions are identified to improve the town’s tourism figures.
Among them are the introduction of a new festival, support to help tour operators set up, and work to make the river itself more visible and accessible.
Glenn Smith, Hay River’s assistant senior administrator, told councillors NWT tourist numbers in general are growing and “there’s a piece of that pie we can better capture.”
The strategy document declares Hay River’s biggest challenge will be developing more attractions for tourists to visit.
“Perhaps the biggest weakness facing Hay River for attracting and retaining visitors is its lack of market-ready tourism products and services,” the document states.
“There are very few organized tours and services currently set up and marketed. With an anticipated increase in tourism demand in the area, it will be important to support the development of new and enhanced tourism products.”
Smith told councillors local residents will be expected to step up and deliver those new tours and services.
“There’s only so much we can do as administration and council,” he said. “The document is intended to align the community as well. Private industry can use it to find opportunities.”
The plan received broad support from councillors.
“I don’t think anything in this document is unrealistic,” said Councillor Keith Dohey. A lot of these things are achievable.”
What’s in the plan?
Actions to be taken fall into four categories as follows:
- Increasing mooring capacity at Porritt Landing
- Developing the Fisherman’s Wharf pavilion and extending the market season
- Making beaches cleaner and easier to access
- A new trail guide, better signage, and year-round accessibility for The Great Trail
- Support for the development of “unique tourism accommodation”
Encouraging “market-ready” tourism products and services
- Developing an Indigenous culture tourism plan with local Indigenous groups
- “Reliable” dog-sledding tours made available
- More support for prospective operators through “education, awareness, and lobbying”
- Producing four to six community tourism packages for summer and winter
- Increasing sports tourism by bringing in one new territorial event and one new national or multi-province event
- Hosting four to five large conferences per year
- One new festival formed by 2021 “that showcases culture and local foods”
- Developing guidelines for beautification and landscaping of public and private land
- Developing a “community theme”
- Better landscaping of public areas
- Better visibility of and access to the river
- A new tourism marketing plan
- A bigger online presence through social media and TripAdvisor
- Regional and territorial partnerships