Nunavut’s tourism industry is quickly recovering from the pandemic, according to the territorial government’s Director of Tourism and Culture Industries, David Boyle.

In fact, Boyle contends that the industry is recovering faster locally than it is nationally, with cruise ship visits to the territory actually surpassing pre-pandemic levels last year.

“Our tourism sector has bounced back a lot quicker than other jurisdictions, including in Canada,” he said. “In 2022, our cruise ship sector was far larger than pre-Covid and we estimate there’s going to be continued growth in the cruise ship sub-sector.”

Boyle attributes the Nunavut tourism industry’s rapid recovery from the pandemic to a few factors: the appeal of the territory itself, the pent-up appetite for travel among consumers, and the promotional work Destination Nunavut did during the pandemic.

“We have an exceptional product,” he said. “Nunavut is unmatched around the globe, and we had a lot of pent up demand during those two down years.

“We also have the Destination Nunavut marketing organization. We continued to market the territory during those Covid years, so when we did open up again, we had a flood of tourists.”

Despite the tourism sector’s rapid recovery in Nunavut, Boyle recognizes that the pandemic forced many businesses to close up shop, and that the ones that survived struggled greatly to do so.

The GN provided businesses with various kinds of financial support throughout the pandemic—funding that several tourism and hospitality business operators said was crucial to their survival.

That pandemic-era funding is no longer available, but the GN continues to provide support to tourism-related businesses in other ways, notably with the Community Tourism and Cultural Industries (CTCI) Program.

CTCI aims to “strengthen community infrastructure and readiness for tourism, and enhance economic development in sectors such as music, digital media, writing and performing arts,” according to the GN website. It is open to “outfitters, tourist establishments, businesses, artist organizations, hunters and trappers organizations, artists, societies, studios or artist co-operatives.”

The program operates year-round, and applications are evaluated three times throughout the year.

The annual budget for the program is $1,328,000. That amount is generally fully allocated.

“It is a very, very popular program and we are estimating that we’re going to be fully expended this year,” Boyle said.

“This fund is very, very, very popular on the artist side. I think we have more uptake on artists than community tourism,” he said.

Competition for CTCI funding is fierce, according to Boyle, and the GN looks at several factors when evaluating applications, including “how much profit it is going to create for the recipient.”

The application process is straightforward, and economic development officers are available to assist interested businesses and individuals in every community in the territory.

However, awareness could be a hinderance for the program.

Nadene McMenemy, who operates the Enokhok Inn in Kugluktuk with her husband Johnny Tootoo, said she was not aware of the fund until it was brought to her attention.

Her business is still recovering from the pandemic, and she would like to see the GN make a greater effort to ensure eligible businesses are aware of these kinds of programs.

“They should be promoted better,” she said.

McMenemy plans to apply for CTCI funding, and if she is approved, hopes to use the funds to promote her business and drive its continued recovery from the pandemic.

“The construction companies are starting to build again, and that’s huge for us,” she said. “People are coming again. We see hope in the future.”

If businesses like the Enokhok Inn are able to grow as a result of the CTCI program, then it will have served its intended purpose.

Boyle contends that, if Nunavut’s tourism and arts businesses are properly nurtured with these kinds of programs, there is no limit to the industry’s potential.

“Obviously we do have barriers up here,” he said. “It’s expensive to come up here and we have infrastructure limitations such as number of hotels and beds, but it’s a high potential sector that will continue to grow going forwards, and it creates lot of jobs.

“I don’t see a limitation in the near term,” he added. “I think we’ve got a lot of growth ahead of us.”

By Tom Taylor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 21, 2023 at 08:55

This item reprinted with permission from   Nunavut News   Iqaluit, Nunavut
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