Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut September 23, 2016 - 1:10 pm

GN slashes funding to Nunavut Tourism, grabs more authority

Tourism association’s funding plummets to $1 million from $3 million

STEVE DUCHARME
Nunavut Tourism’s acting chair, Nicole Rebeck, with ED&T Minister Monica Ell-Kanayuk at a Sept. 22 press conference on the future of Nunavut Tourism. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)
Nunavut Tourism’s acting chair, Nicole Rebeck, with ED&T Minister Monica Ell-Kanayuk at a Sept. 22 press conference on the future of Nunavut Tourism. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)

The Government of Nunavut has engineered a shake-up at Nunavut Tourism, cutting two-thirds of the association’s funding and transferring much of its work back to the Department of Economic Development and Transportation.

The GN will reduce funding to the territory’s independent, not-for-profit tourism association by $2 million: from $3 million to $1 million, said Monica Ell-Kanayuk, the minister of economic development and transportation, at a Sept. 22 news conference held in Iqaluit’s Unikkaarvik Visitors Centre.

To handle the increased workload within the territorial government, three new positions will be created this fall within Ell-Kanayuk’s department, in its tourism and cultural industries division.

“Responsibility for the visitor centres in Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, Cambridge Bay, including the associated positions, will be transferred to the department beginning April 1, 2017,” Ell-Kanayuk said.

“Our government recognizes that tourism is an area of significant economic impact for Nunavut, but one that is still at a very early stage of development. We need to look very carefully at the investments we make in the sector.”

Authority over designation marketing, market research and visitor experience will go to her department, while Nunavut Tourism, a membership-based association of businesses involved in tourism, will refocus as an advocate association, with responsibilities for training, marketing and product development, she said.

“This change will eliminate the duplication of services and responsibilities and ensure greater responsibility for the use of public funds,” Ell-Kanayuk said.

“I am confident that over time this realignment will improve overall experience for Nunavut visitors.”

Ell-Kanayuk thanked Nunavut Tourism for its 20 years of service.

And it appears the change comes as no surprise to the tourism association.

Nunavut Tourism’s acting chair Nicole Rebeck, who joined Ell-Kanayuk at the news conference, said her association had expected the change for some time.

Rebeck said Nunavut Tourism’s board of directors has been “meeting regularly” in the hopes of drafting a new strategy plan reflecting the association’s changing role in the territory.

“For many years, we have been taking on projects that in other jurisdictions would be the responsibility of a government agency,” she said.

“Although it was never necessarily our mandate, we worked extremely hard to ensure that the [territory’s] Tunngasaiji tourism strategy objectives were implemented.”

Tourism in Nunavut is expected to increase: Last month, the cruise ship, Crystal Serenity, with more than 1,000 passengers, became the largest passenger vessel to transit the Northwest Passage.

Ell-Kanayuk said she expects the new tourism legislation, slated for debate at the next sitting of Nunavut’s legislative assembly, will be passed this fall.

“I look forward to continuing our work with outfitters, tourism establishments, hamlets, cruise ships and other partners committed to developing Nunavut’s tourism industry,” Ell-Kanayuk said.

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