Ecotourism in Arviat is progressing

ARVIAT – A four-year plan to develop ecotourism in Arviat has successfully passed the one-quarter stage.

NNSL photo/graphic

Mike Robbins, left, of The Tourism Company and David Pelly and are working on a four-year plan to establish ecotourism in Arviat. – Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

The Arviat Community Ecotourism Initiative is being developed by a team of tourism specialists led by The Tourism Company’s Mike Robbins, who has 28 years experience in the industry and adviser David Pelly.

Also on the team are specialists in the areas of guide training, hospitality, marketing, business planning and web marketing.

Robbins said the two main areas the specialists are focus-ing on are cultural and wildlife tourism.

He said there’s real potential for developing a successful tourism industry in Arviat.

“Everything we’re doing is for the community’s benefit,” said Robbins.

“We’re helping to set things up in the different areas, including marketing, and do all the necessary training over the four-year period.

“Once we’re done with that, we’ll be leaving behind a sustainable tourism program in the community.

“We’ve already been helping to develop relationships with tourism operators.”

The group plans to conduct a test run of the community cultural program in late January.

It will then hold a familiarization trip in the spring of 2011.

Robbins said the first groups of tourists will be coming into Arviat by the autumn of 2011.

He said in many ways, the eoctourism initiative is a total community effort.

“We’ve been at this a year now, and we’re involving the high school because we recognize the future of any tourism industry rests with young people.

“We had students involved in guide instructor Wes Werbowy’s recent trip.

“And we’re including a high school component in the community cultural program, drawing on traditional skills the youth are learning in school.

“We hope Arviat’s ecotourism program becomes a showcase and a model for other communities in Nunavut.”

Pelly said the project is being funded by Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) and the Kivalliq Inuit Association through the Inuit Impact and Benefits Agreement (IIBA).

He said NTI negotiated the IIBA with the federal government for the conservation areas.

“In our case, this is being funded by federal dollars,” said Pelly.

“It’s a benefit that’s fallen out of the Land Claims Agreement, and an example of one that’s reaching people at the grassroots level.

“A call for proposals was put out for this type of plan in all three Nunavut regions, but we were only interested in Arviat.

“We really believe Arviat has great potential to take advantage of Mike and the team’s expertise.”

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