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Yukon’s tourism sector sees ‘strong return’ in 2022: data

Federal and territorial visitor data shows the territory is coming back from depths of pandemic
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Parks Canada’s Dredge No. 4 national historical site seen on July 22, 2018. Parks Canada saw a record number of visitors to its Dawson sites over the 2022 summer season. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

The Yukon’s tourism sector is rebounding from the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data provided by territorial and federal levels of government.

Robin Anderson, global marketing manager for the Yukon’s department of tourism, said the territory is slowly coming back from a 97 per cent reduction in visitor numbers in 2020.

“We’ve got a long way to go, but we had a nice strong return this year,” he said.

According to data from the Yukon Bureau of Statistics, tourism accounted for 2.2 per cent of Yukon’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020, whereas tourism made up five per cent of the GDP in 2018.

In a statement, the Tourism department said that as travel restrictions have eased, the territory has seen increased visitor volumes over the previous two years.

READ MORE: Challenges remain, but Yukon tourism looking up for 2022 season

Close to 200,000 visitors have registered at the six Yukon visitor information centres around the territory between May to September, according to data obtained from the department. That compares to 69,000 visitors registered in summer 2021.

In 2019, which was a record year for visitation across metrics, 360,000 visitors registered at the centres.

For a better sense of what’s going on in terms of visitation, the department looks at additional measures such as airport arrivals, border crossings, overnight visitation and hotel occupancy rates.

While the department has yet to get a complete picture of 2022 summer tourism in the territory, it provided calculations from the first two quarters to give an idea of the extent of the rebound.

For example, same-day border crossings from January to June 2022 were up 925 per cent compared to 2021, but were still 85 per cent lower than 2019. The international border crossing that connects the Klondike to Alaska along the Top of the World Highway re-opened under reduced operations last spring after two years of closures.

Overnight visitation for the same time period was up 186 per cent compared to 2021, but was still 45 per cent lower than 2019.

Arrivals at Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport from January to June 2022 were up 270 per cent compared to 2021, but were still 33 per cent lower than 2019.

The hotel occupancy rate for the same time period was at 47 per cent, which compares to 30 per cent in 2021 and 59 per cent in 2019.

While Parks Canada is also still compiling its 2022 seasonal statistics, the federal agency is boasting a record number of visitors so far at the historic sites in Dawson City.

In a Sept. 23 statement, a representative for the federal agency said the Klondike National Historic Sites saw 53,065 visitors, which beat the previous record of 49,897 set in 2019.

“It’s difficult to attribute an exact reason for the increase in visitors at the Klondike National Historic Sites,” reads the Parks Canada statement.

“These numbers are consistent with trends seen throughout the Yukon, with more people resuming travel as pandemic restrictions are lifted.”

The Kluane National Park and Reserve counted 43,881 visitors in 2022, compared to 53,146 in 2019. That’s up from 12,734 and 22,893 in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

With the border still closed in the area, the Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site only saw 266 visitors in 2022, compared to 3,013 in 2019.

Contact Dana Hatherly at dana.hatherly@yukon-news.com



Dana Hatherly

About the Author: Dana Hatherly

I’m the legislative reporter for the Yukon News.
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