Yukon eyes winter visitors to boost tourism numbers

Winter tourists are coming to Yukon from all over - and not just to see the northern lights.

'For many people it's the first time they see snow at all' says tour operator

Sunshine and mid-range winter temperatures on many days provide a wonderland for outdoor activities in Yukon. (Jan Downing)

Summertime in the Yukon means spending more time outdoors for both locals and tourists, but a growing trend may be pointing towards winter activities as a new attraction for visitors.

Over the last four or five years, the tourism season in the territory has been expanding and Dylan Soo, general manager of Northern Vision hotels in Whitehorse, says it's been great for business.

"Overall we're starting to see similar numbers over nine months, versus the shorter three-month period."

That means more visitors from new markets are looking North for their adventures, year-round.

Bernie Hoeschele, operations manager at Northern Tales Travel Services, says when the company opened, most winter tourists were from Japan, but now guests are coming from all over the world. And they aren't just coming to see the northern lights.

Bernie Hoeschele, operations manager at Northern Tales Travel Services, says winter visitors are now coming to Yukon from all over the world. (Claudiane Samson/CBC)

"For many people it's the first time they see snow at all," Hoeschele says. "And then of course the activities we have to offer like dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice fishing. We have what we call an 'ultimate winter experience.'"

Canadian dollar brings foreign visitors

With the Canadian dollar sinking, Yukon is becoming more attractive to foreign visitors.  

Belinda Kruger and her family are visiting from Brisbane, Australia. She says visiting the Yukon is a new adventure and an affordable alternative to other destinations.

"We wanted to see the northern lights," Kruger said. "We did consider Finland and everything, it's so expensive over there though."

Melissa and Daniel Green are newlyweds visiting from Townsville, Australia, where it can be 35C this time of year. 

"Having little icicles on my eyelashes was something novel and completely unexpected," said Melissa Green.

"We're not built for the cold," added Daniel Green.

In addition to foreign visitors, travel operators say there are also healthy numbers of domestic visitors coming to the territory year-round.


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