Pond Inlet MLA Karen Nutarak is worried about an influx of visitors into her home community of about 1,600.
Cruise ships carrying about 4,800 passengers are expected to call this summer in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, which lies at the eastern entry to the Northwest Passage.
That's after a two-year break due to COVID-19, which led to a ban on cruise ships in Canadian Arctic waters.
This year, Nutarak wants to make sure Pond Inlet residents benefit more from the return of cruise ships.
She asked territorial Economic Development Minister David Akeeagok last Friday in the Nunavut Legislature how Nunavut is preparing for the return of cruise ships to its waters.
Akeeagok confirmed to Nutarak that "cruise ships are coming to Nunavut," though he was unable to provide much more information to Nutarak. He said the division of his department that works on cruise ships is not "fully staffed."
ATMs could be helpful, MLA suggests
Twelve cruise ships went on 21 separate voyages in Nunavut waters between July 2019 and September 2019, according to the Nunavut government's annual report on tourism 2018-2019.
This year, 14 cruise ships and five private yachts will come to Pond Inlet during this 2022 season, said a recent Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency backgrounder.
The Seabourn Venture is among those ships set to arrive in the hamlet on Sept. 24. It will carry about 260 passengers, 120 crew members and one ice navigator on board. It will be the cruise ship's first port on arrival to Canada.
Transport Canada requires passengers and crew to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and that the company have a COVID management plan in place.
Once authorities have cleared the vessel, passengers will come ashore in small groups for a community visit, says a document that Seabourn filed with the Nunavut Planning Commission.
But, in order for arts and craft sellers in Pond Inlet to sell more easily to international cruise ship visitors, portable ATM machines would be helpful, said Nutarak during question period in the Legislature.
Nutarak added that she wants to see more Inuit employed by cruises.
Infrastructure improvements slated
On June 3, during National Tourism Week, Dan Vandal, the federal Northern Affairs minister, announced four projects for Pond Inlet, Arctic Bay, the Kivalliq region and Cambridge Bay "to help the industry emerge from COVID."
Pond Inlet will receive $500,000 to improve visitor infrastructure, by widening the Salmon River access road, developing a gravel pathway down the Salmon River and erecting a gazebo at the existing destination sign.
"This funding will allow approximately 4,800 tourists from cruise ships the opportunity to explore and enjoy Salmon River during their visit at Pond Inlet," Theresa Dalueg, Pond Inlet's community economic development officer, said in a CanNor release.