Air North deal to see expanded European travel options

A new agreement between Air North and Condor will expand travel options between Europe and the Yukon. Premier Darrell Pasloski called the deal a "historic accord" at a press conference yesterday.

A new agreement between Air North and Condor will expand travel options between Europe and the Yukon.

Premier Darrell Pasloski called the deal a “historic accord” at a press conference yesterday.

The deal was signed during a nine-day trade mission to Germany and the U.K.

The premier, Tourism Minister Mike Nixon and representatives from 14 Yukon tourism businesses and organizations participated in the trip.

As of 2014, people will be able to book flights from Europe to anywhere that Air North flies.

Instead of one weekly direct flight between Frankfurt, Germany, and Whitehorse, customers will also be able to access the Yukon through several one-stop flights via Calgary and Vancouver.

Schedules will be timed for convenient transfers, and luggage will be forwarded between the airlines.

Joe Sparling, president of Air North, said that the deal will be a boon not only for his business but for the entire territory.

“There’s little doubt that we’re facing both a softening economy and a continued competitive environment in both the tourism and the mining sectors,” he said. “All of us that participated in the trade mission know that we need new customers in order to grow or sustain our businesses, and that we can’t wait for new business to come to us. We have to go out and find new business.”

Sparling credited the Yukon government for bringing the parties to the table and encouraging the deal to happen.

Condor recently signed a deal with Westjet, and had “kind of lost interest in dealing with us because they were focusing on the big guy,” he said.

“Perhaps one of the most important contributions the government could make is to say that getting this deal put together was important to the Yukon.”

During the trade mission the government also signed 12 co-operative marketing agreements with Germany and U.K. tour operators who bring tourists to the Yukon.

Under those deals, the government has promised to contribute $209,500 towards $592,500 to be spent on marketing campaigns promoting the Yukon as a destination.

The campaigns will be designed and implemented by the tour operators, said Pierre Germain, a director with the Department of Tourism and Culture.

But the government meets with partners at least twice a year to evaluate the ongoing success of the campaigns, he said.

At the end of the year, the success of the marketing is judged on how many people saw the campaign and how many “bums in seats” it actually resulted in, said Germain.

The marketing campaign is expected to target more than three million potential tourists.

German-speaking Europe is Yukon’s largest overseas tourism market with 11,000 visitors annually. The U.K. sends about 3,300 visitors annually.

Combined, they brought an estimated $12 million in tourism spending to the Yukon last year.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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