Tuesday, November 13

Nunavut Tourism needs marketing dollars

(Originally published in TOURISM)

In an article published in Nunavut' Nunatsiaq News, John Thompson writes that Nunavut Tourism admits the territory could catch many more tourist dollars, if only it did a better job advertising itself to the world. "This is the biggest industry in the world," said Jillian Dickens, a marketing officer with Nunavut Tourism. "To get a piece of it, we need to invest, seriously."

The tourism agency, which is largely funded by the Government of Nunavut, receives slightly more than $2 million each year. Of that, $750,000 is spent on marketing. Nunavut Tourism would like to see its budget increase by $3 million to help compete against rival jurisdictions. Even if the agency received the funding boost, it would still only have half the budget of its counterpart in the Northwest Territories, according to Thompson.

"The pitch will likely be a hard sell to the Government of Nunavut, which often hears complaints that there's not enough money for basic services in the territory, such as education and health care," writes Thompson. "But Dickens says a big marketing campaign would pay for itself with the money spent in the territory by growing numbers of visitors." She points to Colorado, which recently boosted the amount spent on tourism marketing, and saw a big spike of sales at local businesses.

"But Colorado is not Nunavut," continues Thompson. "And many of the territory's small business operators may not be ready for a big influx of tourists, and the quality of service these visitors often expect. Boat guides may be away from the phone for weeks at a time, and have no answering machine. Or they may not show up at the scheduled time," writes Thompson.

"Hotels in smaller communities may have run-down rooms, leaky water works and infrequent kitchen service. Restaurants, even in Iqaluit, may offer sluggish service, leaving customers waiting for 15 minutes or longer to be served. There are quality businesses in the territory, to be sure, but tourists may have trouble discerning which ones to trust."

Nunavut Tourism tries to steer potential customers to reliable businesses in the territory, but not all businesses listed on their web site meet basic standards tourists may expect, Dickens suggests.

Thompson adds: "There's also an absence of basic infrastructure, such as docks and small harbours, which would help elderly tourists aboard cruise ships visit communities, without having to crawl over slippery rock breakwaters. A pessimist may suggest luring too many tourists too soon may actually hurt Nunavut's ability to foster a tourism industry. But Dickens says it's the other way around: bring the tourists, and the quality of service will follow."

Nunavut Tourism has worked in other small ways to make the territory more appealing to tourists, according to the article. Exit surveys answered by tourists in 2006 showed one of the biggest complaints was the amount of visible garbage in communities. "To fix this eyesore in Iqaluit," Thompson writes, "Nunavut Tourism has worked with high school students to pick up litter throughout the year. And, in early October, garbage cans were installed around Iqaluit, thanks to a joint project by Nunavut Tourism and the City of Iqaluit."

An exit survey reports Nunavut received about 10,000 visitors from June to October 2006. From that number, Nunavut Tourism estimates the territory received 19,000 visitors during the whole year; half of those visitors come for business and one third come for leisure or vacation. The rest come to visit friends or family or for education purposes.

Most visitors of Nunavut are at least 50 years of age. They're financially well-off and well-travelled. Most come from southern Canada, especially Ontario. There is also a substantial number of visitors from the US, France and the UK.

In all, these visitors spent $26 million in Nunavut.

New Brunswick tourism feels impact of strong Canadian dollar

(Originally published in TOURISM)

Radio-Canada reports that the strength of the Canadian dollar is having a negative impact on the New Brunswick tourism industry, where the number of American tourists has dropped 2.6% since the beginning of 2007.

The industry hopes to make up for the loss by luring more visitors from Ontario and Quebec: "We need to gain a greater understanding of what appeals to Quebeckers besides beaches, in order to acquire a larger share of that market," deputy minister of tourism Ronald Durelle told Radio-Canada.

Ten years ago, the Village historique acadien drew 125,000 visitors annually, but only 65,000 people took in the attraction this year. 2008 could prove to be another challenging year for tourism in the province, because of the anticipated popularity of Québec's 400th anniversary celebrations. However, notes Radio-Canada, New Brunswick may look forward to being in the spotlight again in 2009, when the province hosts the 4th Congrès mondial acadien throughout the Acadian Peninsula.