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Northwest Territories to Reopen to Tourism This March

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Tourism operators were thrilled to hear late last week that the Northwest Territories (Canada) will be open to tourists beginning March 1 regardless of their vaccination status after almost two years of COVID-19 travel restrictions, according to a report.

In a press release on February 11, the government announced that all travelers will be required to sign a self-isolation form which will determine requirements upon entry after travel, such as self-isolation if necessary.

The government has stated that this will allow visitors to travel similar to those for N.W.T. residents. Visitors must also adhere to current health regulations, including mandatory masking and limited gathering.

The statement said that the announcement was being made now, anticipating a decline in COVID-19-related cases within the territory, to allow the tourism industry the time to prepare.

“My response? Thank goodness!” said Gordon Gin, who runs Yellow Dog Lodge out of Yellowknife. “Thank you is the big word of the day.”

“But on a sad note, it should have happened months ago because we’ve lost some bookings we can’t get back.”

Gin previously admitted that the company had lost at least one booking amounting to CA$55,000 because he couldn’t give clients any assurance of opening this summer.

Gin is concerned that some clients may remain cautious about booking until restrictions are lifted.

“Me as an owner, I have to be a little more patient,” he stated. My patience is getting quite thin, isn’t it?”

The report also mentioned Jimmy Kalinek, who runs Only Way Outfitting in Inuvik. He said the opening is still short notice.

Kalinek is in the process of preparing plans for the establishment of a remote tourist camp in the spring, as part of the exemption granted by the government to remote tourism operators, to limit contact between the local community and tourists.

Kalinek’s business was relatively new when the pandemic began, and he claimed there was a backup plan in place before COVID-19 started to strike.

The government is asking travelers to anticipate delays in applying for self-isolation plans and advising people to apply for the plan seven to ten days before the date they intend to arrive into the territory.

Doctor Andre Corriveau, deputy chief medical health officer, declared in the press announcement that the government would like to normalize things like masking, staying home when sick, and other measures that have proven to make a difference in protecting the vulnerable as the territory prepares to end its public health mandate.

“We are looking forward to seeing N.W.T. businesses and operators finally welcome back visitors and show them how spectacular our territory truly is,” said Caroline Wawzonek, minister for Industry, Tourism, and Investment, in the news release.

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