Premier touts projected $9 million per year tourism sector growth at annual business conference

"Mining and mineral-related activities are, and for some time will be, the largest provider of jobs, and the main driver of the territorial economy. We need the benefits from this non-renewable resource production to enable our investment into other sectors of the economy," said Premier Bob McLeod in his Opportunities North keynote address.  Opportunities North is the North's annual business conference.

McLeod also highlighted the tourism sector, which has evolved into a $146-million industry in the last fiscal year and is projected to increase, McLeod said, by $9 million across the territory annually.

"A picture is emerging of a stronger, broader economy," said McLeod, adding that strategies were in development for the agriculture, fishing and manufacturing sectors.

"Premier McLeod didn't talk about diversification in terms of natural resources or clean energy or tourism: he used the word 'and.' And so the Opportunities North conference is about exploring all of the opportunities that are available to diversify the economy of the North, along with our anchor tenant, which is the resource industry," said NWT Chamber of Commerce president Richard Morland.

Tourism is painted as the shining light for the Northwest Territories, and particularly for Yellowknife. The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment reports that in the 2014-15 period, visitor spending territory-wide increased 11 per cent, with outdoor adventure spending up to $6 million – an increase of 46 per cent from the year before. Aurora viewing also increased by $26.8 million, despite the fact that the number of visitors actually decreased last year by 24 per cent.

The Yellowknifer, page 22