Despite crises tourists flock to territory

Yukon tourism continues to be strong. Recent numbers from the Yukon Visitor Tracking Program show tourism has increased 25 per cent over the last decade, or by more than 60,000 people.

Yukon tourism continues to be strong.

Recent numbers from the Yukon Visitor Tracking Program show tourism has increased 25 per cent over the last decade, or by more than 60,000 people. And 90 per cent said they would consider returning.

Visits have increased steadily at about three per cent each year. That’s significant for a decade marred by events that threatened tourism: the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, SARS outbreaks, the “war on terror,” and 2008’s financial crisis, said Pierre Germain, director of tourism and culture.

“I suspect we performed better than most jurisdictions around the country from a tourism perspective,” he said.

Over 60 per cent of visitors were coming for the first time, the data shows. Wildlife viewing was highly important to nearly 60 per cent of visitors. Learning about the Klondike Gold Rush was highly important to 40 per cent. Both those activities had some of the highest satisfaction rates. And 45 per cent thought visiting a place very few people had visited was important.

The Yukon may be unknown to many people, but it is becoming much easier to visit, said Germain.

Visitors flying in have gone up by 45 per cent. People entering by car increased by 21 per cent. With Air North, Air Canada and WestJet all flying into Whitehorse, people have more options, said Germain.

This could explain why most visitors came from Canada or overseas, he said. Visitor numbers from other Canadian jurisdictions jumped by 124 per cent. Overseas visitors increased by 28 per cent. Visits from Americans only increased by seven per cent.

More detailed results will come soon, said Germain. These will show more specifically where visitors went, and identify which countries tourists most often come from.

Germain already knows some trends he wants to explore further, he said.

For the first time since the first of these surveys was done in 1987, the length of visits is increasing. The average trip lasts just over eight days. Overall, spending increased by more than $25 million. But daily spending dropped by 24 per cent.

Less than 20 per cent of respondents said getting good value for their money was important to them. Just under 40 per cent were satisfied with the bang they got for their buck.

“That’s kind of comforting because it means for me that they know that when you come north, you’re going to have to pay more,” said Germain. But he wants to see how people can get more value for their dollar, he said.

Some activities that were low on importance were high in satisfaction. Driving the Alaska Highway got the highest satisfaction rate – 78 per cent. But only 33 per cent of visitors said it was important to them. Similarly, only 32 per cent of respondents said visiting Dawson City was important to them, but it had a 68 per cent satisfaction rate.

More than 3,800 people took part in this survey. The department will wrap up its first-ever survey of winter tourists this month.

Contact Meagan Gillmore at

mgillmore@yukon-news.com

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