Nunavut’s new marine tourism rules stress common sense
“To the degree possible, hire Inuit … and use local services”
Pay fairly for art, ask before you snap someone’s picture and don’t pet the sled dogs.
Those are a few of the rules that the territorial government has created for tourists venturing into its northern communities, according to the Nunavut Marine Tourism Regulations published in the Nunavut Gazette on May 31.
“The Marine Tourism Regulations equip the government with tools to track cruise operator spending in communities and monitor the number of Nunavummiut employed on board cruise ships,” Economic Development Minister Joe Savikataaq said the following day when he announced the regulations, on June 1, in the legislative assembly.
“We remain committed to ensuring that communities have significant input over the types of tourists they want to see in their communities,” he said.
These regulations, which cover both passengers and operators of commercial vessels and pleasure craft, were promised by the spring of this year through a four-year Nunavut Marine Tourism Management Plan launched in 2016.
“Every cruise ship that will be coming into Nunavut will receive this information … so that they know what the rules are,” said Savikataaq, who added that Nunavut has seen an increase in adventure tourism traffic since 2010.
Under the regulations, a pleasure craft carrying 12 or more passengers must give an itinerary to a community municipality at least 48 hours before passengers plan to arrive in the community, unless prohibited by weather or “mechanical issues.”
This itinerary needs to give a disembarkation date, the length of stay and number of people.
Commercial regulations are more stringent. Commercial vessels carrying 12 or more passengers must send a detailed pre-trip report to Nunavut’s chief tourism officer at least eight weeks before arriving in a community in Nunavut.
That report should say how much money the vessel operators and passengers plan to spend in the community, how many passengers there will be and what services the operators are going to bring to Nunavummiut.
And within 12 weeks of leaving Nunavut that same tourism operator must send a post-trip report to Nunavut’s tourism department.
That vessel should also have liability insurance of no less than $5 million.
The regulations, published in French and English on the Department of Economic Development and Transportation’s website, also outline codes of conduct expected of both passengers and tourism operators.
The codes of conduct include the following items:
• “Sled dogs are working animals, not pets. Watch sled dogs from an appropriate distance only. Do not interact with them unless you are invited to do so.”
• “To the degree possible, hire Inuit enrolled under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and use local services.”
• “Do not remove stones, bones or other objects that you may find on the ground.”
Visitors are also advised as follows:
• Don’t bring alcohol into a community unless it is lawful to do so.
• Respect the privacy of local people and ask permission before taking their picture.
• Stay with your group.
• Pay fair value for arts and crafts.
• Don’t litter.
• Have permits to visit Inuit owned lands, national parks and archaeological sites.
• Don’t interrupt sealift or fuel resupply work.
“These regulations will help guide industry development in a way that creates opportunities for local Inuit businesses, artists, carvers (and) performers … involved in marine tourism,” Savikataaq said.
Because his community is now a centre for Nunavut tourism following the finding of the Franklin wrecks, Gjoa Haven MLA Tony Akoak asked how the department plans to enforce these codes of conduct.
“This is an important issue for the people of Gjoa Haven, as our community experiences a number of cruise ship visits each summer, and we are likely to see more visitors in the years ahead,” he said.
Getting communities up to speed with the regulations is a first priority, Savikataaq said. Then the department can deal with complaints made by community members or municipalities.
Akoak also asked if post-trip reports submitted to the GN by tourism operators will be given to municipalities or local economic development officers.
Savikataaq called this a reasonable request that should be easy to make happen.
“We’re here to work with the communities to maximize the benefits and employment that these communities that do get cruise ships can get,” he said.
Last summer, the GN ran cruise-training boot camps in Pond Inlet and Gjoa Haven. Nunavut’s fisheries school is also working to train Nunavummiut in skills needed by tour guides who work on adventure cruise ships.