Every few years the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon brings either its spring or fall conference to Dawson City. TIA Yukon Executive Director Blake Rogers says that it makes even more sense than usual this year.
“This year is a special year, the Year of International Sustainable Tourism for Development, as declared by the United Nations,” he says. “With Dawson’s bid for UNESCO World Heritage Status we thought it would be really fitting to host the conference in Dawson this year.
“We want to promote and celebrate the whole bid process and the fact that Dawson has made that application.”
The Tr’ondëk-Klondike nomination documents were submitted to the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) in Paris last January and its inspector toured the site in early August.
Rogers said that in recognition of the International Year and the nomination, “we will be making sustainable tourism an integral part of this year’s TIA Yukon conference. We will also focus on the value of tourism from a local and from a global perspective.”
The conference, being held from September 27 to 29, will also touch on a number of key themes, including Sustainable Tourism Best Practices and Return On Investment; Building Capacity in Communities; Indigenous Tourism; and Tourism in the Changing North.
“The bonus with that date is that September 27 is actually World Tourism Day so the conference kick-off will be on that day. It dovetails very nicely with everything that we want to put together,” Rogers says.
Delegates will arrive in Dawson by land and by air on Wednesday morning and the afternoon will immediately launch into a TIAY Town Hall and Partnership Circle/Roundtable. The evening will feature a welcoming reception.
The morning is expected to begin with a keynote address by Sheila Watt-Cloutier, an Officer of the Order of Canada, and Nobel Peace Prize nominee (in 2007) for her work in showing the impact of global climate change on human rights — especially in the Arctic.
She is also the recipient of the Aboriginal Achievement Award, the UN Champion of the Earth Award, the Norwegian Sophie Prize, and the Right Livelihood Award, which she won in November, 2015.
This will be followed by panels discussing Dawson City’s UNESCO bid for Tr’ondëk-Klondike, Best Practices from UNESCO Sites: Destination Røros,
Norway, and How Sustainable Tourism is Changing the Travel Industry.
Later In the day there will be panels on Global Perspectives on Sustainable Tourism, Grassroots Community Driven Tourism, A Sustainable Plan for Tombstone Territorial Park and Mining and Tourism Working Together.
The Norwegian experience with a mining-related UNESCO site (Røros was designated in 1980) will be explained by Hilde Bergebakken, the development manager for Destinasjon Røros, from 2009 to 2016.
On Friday evening the Klondike Visitors Association will host an evening of fun. Rogers says the last such event is fondly remembered.
A third strand of tourism development information will come from Jim Byers. He was the former travel editor for the Toronto Star, before branching out as a freelancer whose work can be seen in Postmedia papers across Canada, as well as in The Dallas News, National Geographic, WestJet magazine and many other publications.
Saturday will continue with panels and workshops such as: Working with Media; Sustainable Practices: Making Business and Destinations More Profitable; Sustainable models for tourism and cultural events (including volunteerism, fundraising, branding); and How to tell better stories. (including interpreter training).
Dinner will be a Dine Around Dawson event and the weekend will close with a talent show at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall.
For more information check out the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon website at TIAYyukon.com.