The Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk has a new visitor centre ready to greet tourists, even if tourists are hard to find on the Arctic coast amid a global pandemic.
The centre – a modular building – arrived in the community on the back of a truck this week. Hamlet staff shared pictures of its arrival on Facebook.
Mayor Erwin Elias said the hamlet had been waiting on the building for a year.
“Once the highway opened up in 2017, we realized that we had to have something like that in place,” he said.
“We were using our own facilities in the community to try to accommodate tourism and guiding the tourists and stuff like that.
“It’s good to see something like that coming to the community.”
The centre will serve as a hub to greet and assist guests, promote local businesses, and educate visitors about the Inuvialuit people and culture.
Tourism is a fairly new sector in Tuktoyaktuk.
It has boomed since the opening of the highway, attracting visitors from around the world and even staycationers from across the Beaufort Delta and the NWT.
The Arctic Ocean and natural landmarks like pingos are the big draws, Elias said.
He added the hamlet has been working with Parks Canada to develop more tourism infrastructure.
“In our region, with climate change, and oil and gas and all that coming to a halt, tourism is one of the only things we have left economically,” Elias said.
Though Covid-19 has brought out-of-territory tourism to halt, Elias said Beaufort Delta residents still come to take pictures of the ocean or in front of the welcome sign.
The reprieve brought by the pandemic is actually giving the hamlet a chance to better place itself to receive visitors, he observed.
“Whether we like it or not, tourism is going to come here,” he said.
“It’s just a matter of us trying to be more prepared for it and making sure we can benefit the most out of it – and at the same time, trying to respect our culture within the community.”