About Cruise Ship Tourism in Gjoa Haven
Cruise Tourism is relatively new in the community of Gjoa Haven with between 2-4 ships arriving per season for the past few years. The rich history of the region and its prime geographic location at the heart of the Northwest Passage makes it a desirable community for cruises. During the summer of 2010 a cross-section of Gjoa Haven residents were interviewed about the benefits and drawbacks of cruise tourism. Residents were also asked to share possible strategies that could be used to deal with any community concerns that exist.
- Guided walks and cultural demonstrations provide opportunities to share local culture, unique history, and tradtions with visitors
- Provides income for the community, local carvers, sewers and artists
- Help rejuvinate a culture of arts and crafts
- Opportunity to meet new people and make “friends” and participate in activites with visitors
- Cruise ships provide a sense of excitement and pride in the community
- Minimal money spent
- Tourists don’t stay long enough
- Possibility of criminal activity such as bringing drugs and alcohol into the community
- Increased risk of marine pollution
- Adverse effect on marine wildlife
- Poor communication between cruise ships and the community (i.e. “surprise ships”)
- A sense of intrusion by cruise visitors compounded by tourist’s lack of understanding of subsistence lifestyles, and by inappropriate photography of local people, children, and property
- Standard and salability of arts and crafts could be improved through training for local artisans
- Fear of passenger safety due to vessel grounding and/or sinking with only limited search and rescue (SAR) capability
- Tourists might disturb Franklin gravesites or other historically or culturally significant sites
- Language barriers prevent communication between elders and visitors
- Increased risk of security breaches and issues relating to sovereignty
- Tourists may bring illnesses or disease to the community
- There has been high EDO and point person turnover making it difficult to ensure consistency
Potential Strategies to Minimize Concerns
- Plan for tourists to stay in the community longer, allowing them to hire a boat, shop, view carvers or other artists working, attending a cultural show.
- Provide a pre-trip planning guide for tour operators about the community and in particular to establish what is and what is not appropriate behaviour in the community and to educate tourists about local culture and traditions.
- Get schools involved. Organize a meet and greet between students and tourists where students learn about people from other places and share presentations, art or perfomances with tourists.
- Provide reliable up to date itineraries ahead of time so communities can be prepared.
- Develop tourism and entrepreneur training programs for local residents (i.e. marketing training, small business training), and provide assistance in developing marketing techniques for selling arts and crafts (i.e. business cards, DVD’s).
- Establish more Protected Areas to help preserve sensitive areas and historic sites. A “special hunting area” could be designated where ships are not permitted.
- Build a museum and develop additional activities unique to Gjoa Haven fro tourists to participate in.
- Consider a landing fee or other policy to ensure sufficient revenue.
- Provide community with additional SAR training and equipment.
- Print postcards or develop a community book to sell to tourists.
- Ensure security and health screening on ships to protect northern people.