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Tourism association proposes TV commercial blitz

The Yukon's Tourism Industry Association wants to see its name in lights on small screens across Canada, and it's asking the territorial government to help come up with the cash.

The Yukon’s Tourism Industry Association wants to see its name in lights on small screens across Canada, and it’s asking the territorial government to help come up with the cash.

The association is asking for $5 million over two years to produce a series of TV commercials that would help attract Canadians to the territory.

“This campaign would be in addition to existing tourism marketing programs. It would not mean sacrificing existing programs to start something new,” said Neil Hartling, the chair of the association.

It’s been a decade since tourism marketing in the Yukon got an increase in funding, he said.

The idea is to build a series of Yukon tourism TV ads similar to the successful one that Newfoundland and Labrador has used in recent years. That project costs around $8 million a year, Hartling said.

The TIA plan would see a TV campaign funded at $2.5 million a year. After two years, it would be reevaluated and if it’s as successful as Hartling thinks it will be, he’ll ask for the territory to make the funding permanent.

Hartling said that a $5 million program is a smart move because of the high return on investment. Research based on exit interviews with tourists visiting the territory shows that for every dollar spent, $28 more dollars comes into the territory, Hartling said.

That suggests the territory could expect to see roughly $140 million come back into the territory. Given that the territory’s total budget is now over $1 billion with a $72.8 million surplus last year, the territorial coffers should have plenty of money to spare, Hartling said.

“The premier and minister lead a tourism mission to Europe this fall, and the premier spoke at the TIA fall round up about the importance of tourism to Yukon’s economy. What we need now is a strategic investment that will allow tourism to live up to its full potential,” Hartling said.

Hartling and TIA director Blake Rogers both pointed to the recent media buzz around the Discovery Channel’s new Klondike TV show, which is set in Dawson City, and other Yukon-based reality shows that are gaining popularity.

This shows that the Yukon has a broad mass-market appeal, said Rogers. But even with this publicity, the tourism industry doesn’t have a way of capturing that market, he said.

Compare that to a show like Ice Road Truckers or CBC’s Arctic Air. Both are very popular, especially within Canada, and both feature plenty of N.W.T. Tourism TV ads during the commercial breaks.

“The N.W.T. have shown how, when you do have funds available for broadcast, piggybacking and synergies with programs like Ice Road Truckers and Arctic Air has brought great return on investment for them with small broadcasting investments,” Hartling said.

The plan has the support of Yukon’s federal MP. Ryan Leef said a TV commercial would benefit the entire Yukon, not just tourism operators directly.

“They have a concept and a direction that they want to go in. I think it’s a great idea, and it signals that the Yukon is growing up. It’s an industry-supported model,” said Ryan Leef.

“It’s no secret that the Yukon has it’s own economic development agency, CanNor. They could be a funding partner. That’s part of the exploration for this, the feasibility, where do they get the funding? Will the territory help out, will industry come up with some dollars? That’s what I want to help them figure out,” Leef said.

Contact Jesse Winter at