Spending, tourist numbers up in N.W.T.
'Hopefully the industry will grow everywhere in the North, not just Yellowknife'
The number of tourists visiting the Northwest Territories last fiscal year matched the previous record year, with an increase in spending among visitors too, the territorial government has reported.
Over 63,010 visitors came to the territory to visit family or friends, view the northern lights, or were just curious to check out the vast territory. That's up 14 percent from the previous year.
When business travellers are added, territorial visitors reached a record high, matching the 2013-2014 fiscal year with over 93,000 tourists.
Tourists spent $91.9 million last year, a 22-per-cent increase from $75.2 million the year before.
The category that saw the biggest year-over-year increase in spending and visitation was aurora viewing. Over 24,300 tourists came to check out the aurora, a 48-per-cent increase. That also drove up spending in that sector by an 48 per cent to $39.7 million.
Don Morin, the owner of Yellowknife's Aurora Village, estimates his company had approximately 15,000 to 17,000 customers in 2015 alone.
Morin says in previous years, his primary customers were mainly from Japan. But now he is seeing more tourists coming from all over the world.
He says the only drawback is that sometimes there are not enough hotel rooms in Yellowknife.
He says although business might be good for his company in Yellowknife, he would like to see other regions around the territory profit as well.
"We're not as big as non-renewable industries but we do work hard to promote the North," he said. "So we'll just continue to promote the North and hopefully the industry will grow everywhere in the North, not just Yellowknife."