The tourism industry continues to thrive in the Northwest Territories despite a slumping economy, according to recent government figures.

The territorial department of industry, tourism and investment says visitation and tourist expenditures remain on a ‘substantially positive five-year trend’.

Visitors spent $146.6 million in the NWT in 2014-2015 compared to $94.1 million in 2010-2011. In that same period, yearly visitation increased to 85,000 from 65,000.

Department officials say results were collected as part of an extensive survey that’s conducted every four years.

The survey found that most people came to the territory in 2014-2015 to visit friends and relatives, though more are coming to tour and hunt year-on-year.

Interestingly, 5,000 fewer people visited the NWT in 2014-2015 for Aurora viewing compared to the previous year. However, visitor spending to see the northern lights rose by over $5 million from 2013-2014 to 2014-2015.

“Tourism is an area the department of ITI has worked tirelessly to support and provide strategic investment,” said Premier Bob McLeod in a statement.

“These numbers prove these investments have been well-placed. Tourism remains a positive and growing part of our economy and presents one of our strongest opportunities for diversifying our economy.”GRAPH 1GRAPH 2