The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) is planning to invest an estimated $9.497 million in the NWT’s tourism sector over the next five years.

In addition, around $5.5 million in investments will come from other governments, and $730,800 will come from private sector equity.

The GNWT released a five-year investment plan to grow the territory’s tourism sector Thursday.

Tourism 2020 is the third five-year tourism plan put out by the GNWT.

Its Tourism 2015 Plan increased visitor spending in the territory to $167.1 million annually in 2015/2016 – the highest it’s ever been thanks to a total of 93,910 visitors.

Tourism 2020 aims to top that by over 24 per cent – increasing the value of the territory’s tourism industry to $207 million annually by 2021.

“Tourism is a great economic sector,” said Kwame Neba, manager of industry tourism services with the GNWT. He says tourism is great for economic development in the North.

“It does provide jobs, it provides income, it does enhance the quality of life in our communities, and it helps in diversifying our economy from a non-renewable resource development to a renewable resource development.”

Tourism 2020 will focus on five focus areas for investment, said Neba.

According to the plan, “(these will) serve as the foundation to further support the development of the tourism economy.”

Tourism 2020's Investment Targets, where they're investing and how much (click to view)

Tourism 2020’s investment targets, where they’re investing and how much.

Five Focus Areas Being Invested In

Visitor attraction and experience – The goal is to increase visitor volume and spending according to the report, as well as increase the “supply and diversity of tourism products” and keep that demand strong through “visitor experience excellence.”

Aboriginal cultural tourism – The plan aims to respectfully share Aboriginal culture by funding Aboriginal community tourism guidebooks, develop an Aboriginal Youth Tourism Career Path Program, and support Aboriginal workers in the tourism industry.

Related: Champions for Aboriginal Tourism launched by GNWT today

“It is a great tourism product,” Neba said, who added that there is a demand in marketplace for Aboriginal cultural tourism.

“(It’s) one of the things where you can complement the other experiences in the North is often Aboriginal tourism experiences. There is a market for it out there, and we see more and more people interested in getting a feel of the authentic Aboriginal culture that exists in the NWT.”

Community tourism development – For communities that view tourism as a priority, the plan aims to provide funding and support for community tourism programs, develop events and festivals territory-wide, and build awareness of existing tourism programs within communities.

Skills development – This will focus on training the workforce in the tourism sector, and making it a viable career option.

Tourism Research – Investments will be made into conducting research to support programs and monitor trends and impacts of tourism in the territory.