The NWT and federal governments say they’ll provide more help for northern tourism operators as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to suppress the industry.
On Wednesday, the territorial government announced a $1.44-million initiative – the Tourism Restart Investment Program, or Trip – jointly funded by the territory and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.
Tourism operators, related businesses, and eligible non-profits can apply for one-off payments of up to $18,000 for marketing, recruitment and training for new and returning employees, enhancing their Covid-19 protocols, and infrastructure upgrades.
The governments say this will help operators and businesses complete work before visitors return to the NWT.
Applicants are required to contribute 10 percent of a project’s overall cost. The deadline to apply is October 20.
The latest announcement follows two relief programs for NWT tourism businesses unveiled in June and subsequently expanded to businesses that rely on tourists but don’t have a tourism operator’s licence, like restaurants and souvenir shops.
In April, the territory began allowing remote tourism operations – like lodges – to allow tourists to isolate on-site if they met certain criteria.
Tourism has been one of the territory’s hardest-hit industries during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In October 2020, industry body NWT Tourism said tour operators had lost 443 full-time and 405 part-time positions since the start of the pandemic. Two in five businesses said they had closed, either temporarily or for good.
Reports suggest the Canadian tourism sector won’t rebound to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2024 to 2025, while the Indigenous tourism industry is expected to take an additional four or five years to recover.