Tourism’s success is built on partnerships

Elaine Taylor, MLA for Whitehorse WestAs submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Thursday, June 30, 2016
by Elaine Taylor, Minister of Tourism and Culture

Tourism has always been a key sector for Yukon and it continues to be an important part of our economy. Every visitor who enters our territory spends an average of $82 per day in the summer and $150 per day in the winter. That’s new money that flows directly into our economy driving job creation and creating a better quality of life for our families.

Contained within the 2016/2017 territorial budget are a number of strategic investments in support of Yukon’s tourism industry. Most significant is the commitment of $2.7 million for the continuation of the ever successful Yukon Now marketing program. Yukon Now is not only the single largest investment in tourism marketing but is perhaps the most successful program ever to be undertaken in Yukon’s history.

I would like to acknowledge and thank the Tourism Industry Association of Yukon and the Yukon Chamber of Commerce for sharing their vision to increase the awareness of Yukon as a travel destination and to see a greater investment in television marketing.

Yukoners can be justifiably proud of the commercials that were produced and the contribution of Yukoners, industry and government.

Over the past decade, First Nations have experienced a tremendous cultural resurgence through the sharing of stories, song, dance and art. We’ve seen the creation of new festivals such as Adäka, celebrations such as Hà Kus Teyea biennial gathering and the inaugural drum and dance festival that was held in Haines Junction last summer.

We’ve seen the emergence of dance groups such as the Dakhká Kwáan dancers. We’ve seen the construction of new cultural centres, such as the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre and the Da Kų House in Haines Junction, and are seeing new tourism experiences emerging throughout the territory. This rich cultural tradition is a key piece of what attracts visitors to our territory and is an important part of what makes Yukon unique.

The Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association (YFNCTA) has played an integral role in the development of Yukon First Nations’ arts, culture and tourism sectors. Recently, we were pleased to sign a partnership agreement with YFNCTA that reflects the importance of supporting and strengthening Yukon’s tourism and culture sectors. Our government was also pleased to support their work with an increase of $100,000 in annual operational funding, for a total of $160,000.

This year, we have also committed $1.84 million in support of the 11 Yukon museums and the seven Yukon First Nation cultural centres, growing the overall budget by more than 300 per cent since 2002.

Minister Elaine Taylor and Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association president Shirlee Frost sign a new increased funding agreement in March.

Minister Elaine Taylor and Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association president Shirlee Frost sign a new increased funding agreement in March.

We are improving Yukon government campgrounds with $248,000 in this year’s budget for campground infill and expansion, as well as $52,000 for basic infrastructure upgrades to outhouses, fire pits, docks, signage and kiosks. In addition, $50,000 will go towards developing universal access around our campgrounds, particularly for mobility-challenged visitors. We have also extended the camping season with earlier openings and later closings and opened Yukon’s first new campground in almost 30 years, Conrad Campground on Windy Arm.

The budget also includes approximately $56 million for highways, roads, bridges and airports. These investments are also integral to the growth of tourism and a driver of job creation across the territory.

As we look to this year, a weaker Canadian dollar, lower oil prices, strong air access, and increased awareness of Yukon as a travel destination all bode well in favour of a strong tourism economy in Yukon.

Looking further ahead, Yukon is looking forward to celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary and the 75th anniversary of the Alaska Highway with visitors and the rest of Canada.

I would like to acknowledge and thank the many individuals, organizations and governments for the work being done to promote Yukon as a larger than life destination, providing exceptional and unique experiences to visitors.

The Yukon government is a proud partner with the shared goal of creating and maintaining a strong, vibrant and sustainable tourism industry. Through partnerships, we can ensure that tourism remains a vibrant, strong contributor to Yukon’s economy.