The Yukon government and the City of Whitehorse have signed a new tourism agreement in a renewed commitment to collaborate on tourism projects in Whitehorse through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), according to a press release.
The statement said the new agreement identifies a number of opportunities for the city and the territorial government to “work together and share information and resources in the promotion and development of Whitehorse and the Yukon as vibrant tourism destinations.”
This is the first partnership agreement between the city and the Yukon government since 2017.
The statement said the agreement revives a tradition of close territorial and municipal collaboration on tourism matters.
Some items in the new agreement include support for local events and infrastructure and use of Travel Yukon’s marketing assets and expertise to grow the city’s tourism audience.
Others are exploring ways to boost and showcase arts and culture as well as promoting inclusion, diversity and reconciliation.
“The agreement also commits the two parties to an annual meeting to assess the previous year’s initiatives and cultivate new opportunities,” the statement said.
It adds that the MOU is an update of the previous agreement signed by the two parties in 2015 and is structured to better align with the Yukon tourism development strategy and the city’s strategic priority of tourism advocacy.
Tourism and Culture Minister John Streicker said the agreement reaffirms the government’s strong relationship with the City of Whitehorse.
“It is through alignment and collaboration that Whitehorse and the broader Yukon will benefit from the numerous socio-economic opportunities that tourism presents,” he said. “I am confident that our collaboration will build the Yukon’s tourism sector successfully and sustainably.”
Mayor Laura Cabott told the News the agreement is important for the city because “we are a tourist destination.”
“Tourism is the second largest industry next to mining and we have a very strong summer tourism industry,” she said.
Of all visitors to the territory, 68 per cent visit Whitehorse.
Cabott acknowledged that the tourism industry was hit hard during COVID-19 and noted that anything that could be done to support the industry is important.
“Working with Yukon government is key to that and always have been,” she said.
When the News asked of tourism numbers in the territory, she said the numbers are going up after the lifting of COVID-19 mandates with a number of tourists arriving in April and May. And with warm weather, she said, the city is beginning to see more visitors.
“I’m not sure we will go back to pre-pandemic numbers. We are not anticipating that yet for this year.”
On the agreement, Cabott explained there is no financial obligation binding the city with the Yukon government.
“It’s just a collaborative agreement and we are exploring tourism opportunities and showcasing Yukon arts and culture with focus on First Nations’ arts,” she said. “We both agreed to work together to address infrastructure needs to build more infrastructure and promote Whitehorse as a destination for meetings and conferences. This agreement will help fill those gaps.”
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