The territorial government is looking into the feasibility of building a new hotel near to Yellowknife Airport.

In a tender published this week, the territory invites proposals for what it calls an “assessment and feasibility study” related to developing a hotel next to the airport. Yellowknife Airport is owned and operated by the Department of Infrastructure.

“As the central hub for passenger travel in the NWT and various regions of Nunavut, [the airport] sees many
passengers that require accommodations during nightly layovers,” the request for proposals reads.

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“In response to this requirement and the limited availability of hotel rooms in Yellowknife during peak tourism seasons, the Yellowknife Airport would like to have an assessment completed to determine the potential feasibility for a hotel development on lands near the Yellowknife Airport.”

Even with the construction of the Chateau Nova Hotel and an expansion under way at the Explorer Hotel, Yellowknife’s accommodation sector has come under increasing strain in recent years.

In September 2017, tourists were reported to be sleeping in vehicles and tents as the city ran out of hotel rooms and bed-and-breakfast accommodation.

The last time the economic impact of the airport was studied, in 2015, it processed more than half a million passengers per year and had seen that number grow by 13 percent since 2010.

Though supporting hotel construction is not mentioned anywhere in the airport’s current five-year business plan, ranging from 2018 to 2023, the plan does call for promoting airport development to meet commercial opportunities. The document suggests investing the airport’s revenues in, among other things, “facilities focused on tourism” and “upgrades to improve the customer experience.”

This week’s tender invites businesses to outline how they would conduct a “needs assessment, feasibility study, and possibly prepare a formal funding proposal for the development of a hotel near the airport.”

It continues: “The feasibility study will be able to provide the Yellowknife Airport with the necessary information to decide whether or not a formal proposal should be developed to try to secure funding for the project.”

With the work at a preliminary stage, there is no information regarding potential locations, cost, size, or how the hotel would be built and operated – and by whom. Those questions may, in part, be answered by the feasibility study itself once complete.

The territory has budgeted $30,000 for the work and expects the study to be carried out in July and August this year.