Tourism is the largest renewable resource based industry in the NWT. Within the economy, it is considered an export as it brings new dollars into the NWT and generates employment for many Northerners. The travel and tourism industry is competitive and constantly impacted from a variety of global factors.
In the 2013/2014 season, there were over 90,000 visitors with a 20 per cent increase from the previous year. The GNWT invested $1.2 million through the department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, and visitor spending reflected this with a 24 per cent increase, to $132.5 million.
The six key areas for investment are marketing, infrastructure, skills development, community and industry engagement, research and Aboriginal tourism. Key tourism segments include camping and touring, outdoor adventure, aurora viewing and business travel.
The Northwest Territories appeals to an adventurous, older market seeking authentic experiences. Some of the inherent advantages of the NWT include the best viewing opportunities for the Aurora anywhere in the world, steadily increasing over the last five years with a 38 per cent increase last season.
The well maintained government campgrounds, some of the best canoeing rivers in Canada, unique scenery and excellent fishing are also consistent attractions. Business travellers and conference goers are key market for growth, along with visiting friends and relatives.