Firms pursue remote possibilities north of the border

SAN FRANCISCO -- Canada likely will be promoting a number of new destinations in the next 10 to 20 years, according to tour operators.

A spokeswoman for Lawrence, Kan.-based Maupintour, a firm with a strong presence in Canada, said the firm believes the sheer remoteness of the country presents a number of opportunities for the emergence of new destinations, including the Northwest Territories.

The region "is virtually unexplored, in my opinion, for tourism," she said.

"This remote area has great potential for adventure tourism, specializing in outdoor activities. Yes, the season would be limited due to weather, but there are already several operators doing unusual programs. But expense would be a factor because flights in and out of remote areas are expensive."

Maupintour also believes the Nanavut Territory, the eastern portion of the Northwest Territories that is twice the size of Ontario, contains three time zones and is controlled by Canada's indigenous people, will increase in popularity even though flights will be expensive and services limited.

Maupintour predicted that British Columbia would fare well in the early part of the next century, too.

"Everyone is familiar with Vancouver and Victoria, but the north is yet to be discovered. Few people realize that British Columbia is bordered by the Yukon Territory to the north and very close to [Alaskan destinations]," the spokeswoman said.

The addition of VIA Rail's Skeena line should open up some new avenues for Prince George and Prince Rupert.

Beyond Prince George to the north lies a vast area of potential for outdoor adventure, she added.

Phillip Gordon, chief operating officer of Littleton, Colo.-based Globus & Cosmos, thinks the Canadian Rockies and western Canada are ripe for continued tourism success, especially tour programs such as rail rides through the Rockies and river rafting on Alberta's Athabasca River.

Gordon also fancies Quebec and Newfoundland/Labrador as emerging areas, noting that cruising on Quebec's Saguenay river and overnight stays in the picturesque resorts of St. Andrews-by-the-Sea and the chateau-like resort hotels of Point au Pic as winners.

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