Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut May 02, 2014 - 1:14 pm

Arviat Community Ecotourism picks up international award

“Arviat has exemplified strong cross community and stakeholder participation"

Award-winning Arviat Community Ecotourism offers a slice of daily life to visitors to the Kivalliq community. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
Award-winning Arviat Community Ecotourism offers a slice of daily life to visitors to the Kivalliq community. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

Arviat’s three-year-old tourism program has picked up an international tourism award.

The Word Travel & Tourism Council selected Arviat Community Ecotourism as the winner of its community award, aimed at organizations that offer sustainable tourism, including local community development and cultural heritage.

Arviat Tourism’s Olivia Tagalik “didn’t believe it” when the organization was first announced as a finalist the council’s award in January. 

So being selected out of 170 tourism bodies from around the world was a huge accomplishment, Tagalik said in an email to Nunatsiaq News.

“I think this is great for the community,” she said.  “Everyone is proud of what we have been doing here and are excited to continue working towards sustainable employment opportunities in tourism for our young and fast growing community.”

Tagalik was in Hainan, China for the World Travel and Tourism Council Tourism for Tomorrow awards ceremony April 24, along with colleague Mike Robbins, to accept the award.

That gave tourism operators a chance to get to meet other finalists, and see how tourism products are offered in communities and regions around the world.

In a description on its website, the WTTC says that “Arviat has exemplified strong cross community and stakeholder participation in devising and developing its tourism product.”

Since the hamlet hired its first tourism coordinator in 2011, Tagalik has grown a circle of people to help share what must be done in the community, from throat singers to artists and hunters, while others are being trained in hospitality.

Arviat Community Ecotourism’s offerings evolve around a slice of daily life in the Kivalliq community.

That means visitors will likely try some locally-hunted country food, tour the community by foot to see artisans at work and head out onto the land by all-terrain vehicle to see the natural scenery, and if they’re lucky – spot a polar bear.

The local tourism body also employs a group of local performers known as Qaggiqtiit, who put on shows for visitors.

Although the WTTC award does not come with any funding, Tagalik is certain it will help boost visitor numbers in the months and years to come.

In 2012, 24 visitors came to Arviat. In 2013, that number rose to 220, thanks to a cruise ship visit.

Tagalik said she already has some groups booked for summer wildlife and cultural tours.

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