Environment

Thaidene Nëné makes New York Times travel list


The NWT’s Thaidene Nëné National Park Reserve is among destinations listed in 52 Places, the New York Times’ 2022 compilation of world attractions worth seeing.

Each year, the newspaper selects 52 locations considered to be among the most alluring for prospective travellers. That task has been complicated since 2021 by the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic.

For 2022, the newspaper said it chose destinations “where travellers can be part of the solution.”

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Introducing this year’s choices, the Times wrote: “Our annual list of destinations to visit this year looks at spots where visitors can be part of the solution to problems like overtourism and climate change.”

Entries range from Jordan’s Dana Biosphere Reserve to the city of Cleveland, Ohio, and from Egypt’s Red Sea Mountain Trail to the entirety of places like Sierra Leone, Slovenia, and Greenland.

Three Canadian destinations are selected. Joining Thaidene Nëné are Vancouver Island and Newfoundland and Labrador’s Fogo Island.

Of Thaidene Nëné, the newspaper declares that the park reserve (and broader Indigenous protected area) “sets a new precedent in including Indigenous peoples in park management and oversight.”

The protected area has created tourism jobs despite the pandemic pausing almost all visits to the NWT by non-residents, and has indirectly sparked initiatives like the creation of locally made log furniture.

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“Economic opportunities derived from the park, like guiding and cultural heritage tours, flow back to these communities,” the Times says of places like Łútsël K’é.

“Visitors can hike along the trails of Dene ancestors, paddle through the many coves and waterfalls of the eastern arm of Great Slave Lake, fish for lake trout and Arctic grayling during the summer’s nearly 24-hour light, and camp at the transition point between the subarctic and Arctic environments.”

The entry is written by Peter Kujawinski, a freelance journalist and regular contributor to the New York Times who formerly served as a United States diplomat, including a term as US consul general to Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories.

Kujawinski, with Yellowknife photographer Pat Kane, last year documented for the same newspaper the NWT’s attempts to protect Indigenous Elders from the onset of the pandemic.

At the moment, tourism in Thaidene Nëné is virtually at a standstill other than exploration by NWT residents.

Restrictions on tourism in the territory have remained in place for almost two years. Each time the NWT government has come close to easing those restrictions a fresh variant of the coronavirus responsible for Covid-19 – first Delta, then Omicron – has struck.

The territorial government last month began considering whether proof of vaccination can fully reopen the territory to tourism without waiting for Covid-19 case numbers to fall across Canada, but an Omicron-driven outbreak across the NWT has since placed that work on hold.

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