Nunavut government urges residents to take “staycations” this summer

Finance minister suggests “going to another community and seeing some of the different landscapes”

If a travel “bubble” is set up for the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, many Nunavummiut could decide to take their summer holidays in Yellowknife, with its many opportunities for shopping. (File photo)

By Jane George

The Government of Nunavut is urging residents to “take a staycation” for their summer holiday getaways.

The territory’s national parks—Auyuittuq, Sirmilik, Qausuittuq, Quttinirpaaq and Ukkusiksalik, as well as the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site—will remain closed this summer.

But still, Finance Minister George Hickes said, “there are so many things to do.”

He suggested “even going to another community and seeing some of the different landscapes or tourism opportunities,” during the government’s COVID-19 news conference on Thursday, June 4.

Restrictions on within-territory travel lifted on June 1, although Nunavut residents are still advised to avoid non-essential travel to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Nunavut has also said it will likely maintain its quarantine of all air travellers coming into the territory, so travel outside Nunavut for a summer holiday could come with a two-week wait at an isolation hub before returning.

The travel restrictions are expected to continue in some form until “we have more information about effective therapies and/or a vaccine for COVID-19,” said the GN’s guide to easing COVID-19 restrictions in the territory, called Nunavut’s Path.

But soon Nunavut residents may be able to travel to the Northwest Territories without going through quarantine on returning, which would open the possibility for Nunavummiut to visit Yellowknife.

Tourism within Nunavut has not traditionally been fuelled by local residents.

A 2015 Nunavut Tourism survey found “land-based travellers” —tourists who hike, camp, visit sites of interest, or stay in hotels and bed-and-breakfast operations—comprised only seven per cent of total visitors.

And they accounted for only 8 per cent of tourism spending in 2015.

Most of Nunavut’s visitors, 69 per cent, were business travellers, who brought in 77 per cent of the $38 million spent by visitors to the territory.

The balance of visitors to Nunavut either arrived on cruises or came to the territory to visit relatives.

Other Arctic jurisdiction are also working to build their local tourism bases after COVID-19. Iceland, for one, is offering residents over the age of 18 vouchers worth 5,000 ISK ($60) to be spent on domestic tourism.

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(27) Comments:

  1. Posted by Nunavut Resident on

    This is a wonderful sentiment, but Northern travel costs are so restrictive. How could this possibly be a real option?

  2. Posted by Prisoner of Nunavut on

    Yea… no thanks.

  3. Posted by I live on an island on

    Try living on belcher islands in Sanikiluaq. There is no connection anywhere else in nunavut for us. We can only go to Winnipeg, when most of our families are in Nunavik and the Air Inuit won’t come here right now for passengers. No chance we could even visit relatives in Iqaluit— the cost would be crazy.

  4. Posted by Jeff on

    Brilliant idea,and the Ministers,deputy ministers,Adms ,teachers,nurses, should stay up here and lead by example,and pay for their airline tickets ,hotels , and see what the rest of us take a vacation in Nunavut .

    • Posted by Misinformation on

      Not sure what you are talking about? It is a common myth that teachers tickets and hotels are paid for. Like all GN employees teachers get one plane ticket up as part of their relocation and any hotels along the way to their destination. There are no other flights paid for other than work travel

  5. Posted by Double Standards on

    The GN is paying contractors $10000 for every contractor staying in isolation plus meals and room fees.
    The GN is telling employees you’ll have to spend two weeks of your vacation in isolation and are not allowed to work remotely instead.
    Double standard.

  6. Posted by J on

    The purpose of being isolated and confined for the last few months was to ensure the virus did not infiltrate the territory while our health care system prepared to respond to COVID-19 (PPE, ventilators, medical supplies, extra beds, testing kits) and to avoid it being overwhelmed if it did make it’s way to our Territory.

    Many Nunavimiut have relatives and close family down south that they have not seen in months due to the fact that they have to complete a 14 day quarantine in Ottawa upon their return and cannot afford the leave time.

    It would be great if we could come up with new measures and avoid the quarantine.

    • Posted by BT on

      Yes, very true. I was wondering as well if our leave could be waived for the days being holed up in quarantine.
      As well, with NWT/NU border now open, some provinces with low-risk of contracting the virus should be relaxed to lower the government’s expenses covering the hotel costs.

  7. Posted by Outrages cost on

    I just priced a flight for a family of 4 in July to Yellowknife.

    YFB – YZF = $17,421.28
    Taxes: $955.08
    Total: $18,376.23

    Plus Hotel & Food

    Also there was only 5 seats available for end of July.

    I checked flights from Iqaluit to Arctic Bay for end of July and there were only 3 seats available at a total cost of $18,812.56 Plus Hotel & Food. for a family of 4

    Who could afford these prices? Travel inside Nunavut is out of any family’s price range.

    • Posted by Communism on

      WOW!!! The government is encouraging Nunavummiut to get poorer to visit what we see/live every day. A vacation is going somewhere you normally wouldn’t be able to see/do at home. Like enjoying a warmer holiday or enjoying shopping at lower prices.

  8. Posted by Love Travel on

    I think Canadian North should start a new flight to a different location. Like maybe PEI or Newfoundland where the levels are very low and no new cases for a long time now. That would get away from having to quarantine. They they can fly here and tour Nunavut and vise versa.

    • Posted by Great idea but… on

      No one in NL or PEI is going to pay the ridiculous fares northern airlines are used to getting from the GN, which you can just imagine would be in the range of $1500-2500 to the maritimes. There’s a problem when you can fly to South Africa for less than Iqaluit to Ottawa, and the only reason is greed and a GN too weak to do anything about it.

    • Posted by No PEI or NL For You on

      Can’t get into PEI or NL unless you are a resident, even then you have the isolation period.

      Nunavummiut are as welcome there at this time as other Canadians are in Nunavut.

  9. Posted by Northern Border Prisoner on

    I hope that NU officials understand that if this 14-day quarantine does not end soon, NU is going to lose its teachers and skilled workers in droves— especially if this continues into the winter. Not to mention see the decimation of it’s tourism sector.

    No newcomer (<3 yrs.) in their right mind would chose to stay in a place with inadequate healthcare, terrible internet, high prices and no option to leave.

    Vacation here? Where? With what money— for a $2,000 ticket to an isolated community? What a nice sentiment.

    Who cares. Throw more money at the quarantine hubs (full of loopholes) and the price gouging airlines (there might be an essential service worker who didn’t isolate just a seat away)! Enjoy your summer, Nunavummiut!

    • Posted by Yup on

      many GN employees can probably quit, get EI for the summer and have the GN rehire and repay their move back up in Winter. whatever you do don’t get Ontario to test everyone or better yet actually get testing capacity here instead of throwing like 30 millions at hubs and airlines These politicians must have some financial stake to make such poor decisions

      • Posted by Northern Border Prisoner on

        No intelligent GN worker would quit their job (which would not entitle them to EI), uproot their life, lose their housing and then go through the rehiring process after their vacation just to work here.

        Not only that but the GN doesn’t pay for teachers to leave until their third year of service.

        • Posted by EI possible on

          You can get EI by claiming the GN is denying your employment rights and forcing you to pay (with vacation pay) to quarantine. A lot of people are transient and will do this, head the cottage until October and get hired again.

          • Posted by Clarity on

            That is not how EI works. Presumably any GN salary will exceed the clawback threshold resulting in CRA clawing back all EI come tax time.

            You can’t just earn a high salary a year and then claim EI for a period when you were not employed, that’s highly abusive. Canada has set thresholds so if you earn above that threshold CRA claws back EI.

            Iv never seen so many people claiming EI who have no idea how EI or taxes for that matter work. There’s exceptions and exclusions but they’re not relevant in the scenario being outlined by the comments above.

  10. Posted by Northern Guy on

    And yet designated critical workers can move freely into and out of the territory with no requirement to hub in the south for two weeks and their travel is paid for by their employer. Meanwhile the permanent residents of the territory are treated like children and punished. Is it a just a coincidence that many of these so called “critical workers” are employees of the Department of Health?

    • Posted by THINK!!! on

      So Northern Guy if Covid-19 breaks out in your community would you accept that the nurses, doctors, and other vital support workers coming to help your community are delayed by 14 days because they have to quarantine?????

      • Posted by Northern Guy on

        No I would expect that these workers would already be resident in the territory and that there would be little need to bring in transient workers to fill these roles. And if Covid does show up in the communities who exactly do you think will be the ones bringing it? Certainly not anyone who has hubbed for 14 days in the south.

        • Posted by Forgetfulness is Us on

          For someone who is a “Northern Guy” you seem to have forgotten our ongoing shortage of medical staff, our population’s unwillingness to to train for these professions, our difficulties in recruiting and retaining this staff, and our consequent reliance on the medical systems of other provinces.

          I will agree whole-heartedly that I would be nice if these folks were resident in the territory. The question is, how do we make ourselves appealing?

          • Posted by Great Expectations on

            Have to agree, maybe “Northern Guy” lives in Iqaluit or even Rankin, but doesn’t seem to have much insight into how the smaller communities work.

          • Posted by Northern Guy on

            The system is only the way it is because it incentivizes transient staff. There was a period of time when Health was doing an outstanding job of getting professionals to come to Nunavut permanently. However now we have a system that provides subsidy and support for staff who have no wish to do anything other than milk the territory for a pay cheque. Its easily fixed but it requires a political will that is clearly absent.

  11. Posted by Get Off Our Necks on

    Ahoy, GN employees. Welcome to the world of those of us who do not have GN jobs and are forced to live on Income Assistance. I say forced because there are no jobs in our community and we occasionally do get work we are not allowed to save enough money to buy an airplane ticket to a place that has permanent jobs. For many of us Nunavut is a prison. Polar bears and mosquitoes are the unpaid prison guards.

    • Posted by Go Where the Work Is on


      Seriously? You are not forced to live anywhere. You make the choice.

      If there is no work in your community, then show some initiative and go where the work is. That is the way the economy works.

      I’m so tired of welfare recipients complaining about no work in their communities, but not making any effort at all to go where the work is.

      • Posted by Golden Handcuffs on

        Dear “Go to Where the Work Is” it’s really not that easy. If people have no money and no income they are virtual slaves. Nunavut is a costly place to live and to travel, and with very limited housing and employment options elsewhere picking up and moving is not possible without any resources. Your rant is the kind of simplistic fantasy that tells us nothing about how the world is, only how you wish it to be; but is totally disconnected from reality.

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