Quebec reveals grand plan for northern tourism

“We have an extraordinary opportunity to produce a tourism experience of the highest calibre”

By SARAH ROGERS

Kangiqsujuaq guide Yaaka M. Jaaka points out landmarks along Wakeham Bay to Nicole Ménard, Quebec’s minister for tourism, far right, and deputy minister Suzanne Giguère during a 2010 visit to Nunavik. (FILE PHOTO)


Kangiqsujuaq guide Yaaka M. Jaaka points out landmarks along Wakeham Bay to Nicole Ménard, Quebec’s minister for tourism, far right, and deputy minister Suzanne Giguère during a 2010 visit to Nunavik. (FILE PHOTO)

Quebec plans to spend $32 million to attract more visitors to northern Quebec.

The 10-year plan aims to make the territory north of the 49th parallel a “world-class sustainable tourism destination by 2021,” Quebec’s tourism minister Nicole Ménard said at a Nov. 23 press conference in Quebec City.

The strategy, which falls under the province’s sweeping Plan Nord, envisions opening up Nunavik and the province’s three other regions (James Bay-Eeyou Itschee, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and Côte Nord) to more eco- and adventure tourism, with a spotlight on regional and Aboriginal culture.

“We have an extraordinary opportunity to produce a tourism experience of the highest calibre,” Ménard said.

But the tourism strategy offers few details on how that product will be built up, saying only that the plan will focus primarily on infrastructure development.

That means investing in more accommodation, welcome centres, tourist products, human resources and marketing.

Quebec will spend about half of what officials estimate will be needed to implement the strategy — $70 million — the rest to come from “economic bodies” in the territory.

But the development of this new tourism destination will mean significant spinoffs for northern communities, Ménard said.

Quebec wants to see tourism generating an estimated $1.16 billion for the region by 2021.

That translates into tourists spending $140 million in northern Quebec every year.

“For every $100 a tourist spends north of the 49th parallel, $80 will go to profit the Quebec economy,” she said.

When asked about the how tourists will pay the hefty price tag to travel between Montreal and Nunavik, Ménard said that is something her department will continue to focus on.

“We’re very aware of this,” she said. “It will require working with all of our regional partners.”

Quebec’s native affairs minister Geoffrey Kelley said Nunavik has already come a long way in developing its tourism product and making it more accessible to southern visitors.

“We’ve seen an incredible progress in the infrastructure development in Kuujjuaq,” he said. ‘The capacity to welcome visitors has grown significantly in recent years.”

Kelley heaped praise on Nunavik’s tourism attractions, from its wildlife to the Pingualuit crater and the Torngat mountains.

“These are things we rarely get to experience but it’s something I would recommend to anyone,” he said.

The province has also created an assistance program for regional tourism projects in northern Quebec — its details will be announced later.

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