North

Record number of tourists spent $200M in N.W.T. last fiscal year

More than 110,000 visitors travelled to the Northwest Territories in the 2017/18 fiscal year — a new record, according to the territorial government.

Tourists coming north for aurora viewing contributed $55M to the economy

Tourists pose for photos by Cameron Falls on the Ingraham Trail near Yellowknife. In total, 112,530 people visited the territory during the 2017/2018 fiscal year. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

More than 110,000 visitors travelled to the Northwest Territories in the 2017/18 fiscal year — a new record, according to the territorial government.

In a news release issued Thursday, Wally Schumann, the minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, said spending totalled $203 million.

In total, 112,530 people visited the territory during that period, compared with 108,480 in the 2016/2017 fiscal year.

Tourism has been on the rise in the territory for the last five years; last year's total visitors and spending also broke records.

Aurora viewing is making up a big portion of the spending. The statement said the number of tourists coming for aurora viewing is up 17 per cent, contributing about $55 million to the economy.

The aurora borealis appears over Great Bear Lake. Aurora viewing made up about $55 million in spending. (Pat Kane/Reuters)

Tourism spending is up almost 50 per cent overall over the last fiscal year. Business travel has also reached a five-year high.

"These continued improvements in the tourism numbers across the N.W.T. are promising for the future of our growing industry," Schumann said in the statement.

The territorial government has been pushing to meet a five-year target to increase the N.W.T. tourism industry's value to $207 million by 2021.