Nunavut’s tourism strategy needs an overhaul: MLA
"Regulating and enforcing and maintaining safety standards" should be key, says Rankin Inlet North MLA Tagak Curley
If southern visitors have learned one thing from Nunavut this past summer, it’s that the territory is a dangerous place.
First, a group of 20 tourists were stranded at a camp near Arctic Bay in Admiralty Inlet in June.
In August, two U.S. tourists, who went fishing on Dubawnt Lake 250 kilometres southwest of Baker Lake were presumed dead after going missing at the end of July.
And most recently, the Canadian Coast Guard had to rescued a group of American tourists who tried to navigate through the Northwest Passage on jet skis.
These incidents prompted Rankin Inlet North MLA Tagak Curley to grill economic development minister Peter Taptuna in Nunavut’s legislative assembly Sept. 5 on safety precautions for the tourism industry in Nunavut.
“Can the minister clearly explain how the government’s new tourism strategy addresses the issues of regulating and enforcing and maintaining safety standards in this critical sector of our economy?” Curley asked Taptuna.
The Government of Nunavut released its Tunnagasaiji:Tourism Strategy for Nunavummiut at the legislative assembly last sitting in May — but how to deal with the kinds of emergencies produced by these latest incidents was not necessarily accounted for in that document.
“It is a sad state of affairs when accidents like that do happen,” Taptuna responded.
Taptuna went on to say that tourism operators have to follow guidelines and regulations, but in some cases “there’s some unforeseen circumstances where it’s way out of town or there’s certain rules [that] aren’t followed.”
Curley said all operators should have proper business licenses as well as guides for every single tourist, and asked what amendments to the tourism strategy would be made on safety.
“It is paramount that the safety of the tourists who do come up here is taken into serious consideration,” Taptuna replied.
But Taptuna said sometimes tourists like to go on wildlife or eco-adventures “alone without guidance.”
“We’re definitely looking at that for operators to make sure that these regulations are looked at very carefully for not only to create safety for operators and tourists who are out there, but to make sure that these rules are enforced for the outfitters,” Taptuna said.
Last month the GN issued a warning to all tourists to be careful when on the land. And search-and-rescue operations are climbing each year — as well as the cost of rescuing people.
“Rescue for these individuals requires the efforts of the military, the territorial government, the RCMP and local authorities,” Curley said.
Curley then asked if these search expeditions are “adequately insured to cover the cost of such rescues.”
Taptuna said consultations are being taken place to address the issue.
“I believe that our department is working hard to ensure that if accidents do occur, that there is a plan put in place for all partners to partake in or have a system in place that will make these operations for rescue a lot safer for everyone involved,” Taptuna said.