The number of foreign tourists visiting Whitehorse this winter has increased, and most of them are coming from Japan.

One northern lights tour company says it has seen an 80 per cent increase in the number of visitors this year compared to last year.


Toshie Cartier is one of six Japanese-speaking tour guides hired by Northern Tales Travel in Whitehorse to cater to the growing northern lights tour market. (CBC)

Stefan Wacherhagen, Operations Manager for Northern Tales Travel, says Yukon is benefiting from a change in Air Canada flights from Japan to Vancouver.

"So people from Japan got a much easier connection to Whitehorse than they had before, and it makes it easier to reach it," he said.

"The other reason is we’ve run northern lights tours for a couple of years now, but we’ve done more marketing in Asia."

This is also a year of increased solar flare activity, which means a greater intensity and frequency of northern lights.

Northern Tales Travel is capitalizing on it. It has hired six Japanese guides to interpret for the visitors.

"As a tour guide, especially using Japanese, I was very surprised," said Toshie Cartier. "I thought speaking Japanese is not so useful in this small community."

More people wanting to come to Whitehorse also means more competition. Another northern lights tour company has sprung up to take advantage of the increase in tourism.