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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Development planning in the Northwest Territories : the case of tourism Weeres, Scot David


The purpose of this thesis is to argue that effective economic development planning cannot occur without integrating the planning, policy-making, and programme development processes. The Government of the Northwest Territories' tourism development planning efforts are examined and analysed in an effort to identify the determinants of successful development planning. For a number of decades economic development activity in the Northwest Territories has been based on non-renewable resource extraction. The result has been the creation of an unstable and dependent economy that largely serves the needs of non-residents. Increasingly Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), like other governments across Canada and around the world, has turned to development planning to deal with the instability and dependency problems that are an inevitable adjunct to non-renewable resource based economies. The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has concluded that tourism can provide some protection from the economic storms that periodically sweep across the non-renewable resource based northern economy. A review of planning, policy, and programme theory indicated that while the three are different they are not discrete fields of study or activity. Rather, they are all integral parts of development planning. Thus, it is necessary, to examine not just government planning documents but also governmental policy and programmes, before commenting upon, and learning from, a government's development planning activities. This thesis has drawn information and examples from a variety of GNWT planning, policy, and programme sources relating to tourism development in the NWT. An examination of these documents and numerous unstructured interviews with those planning the development of the NWT's tourism sector have led to .the following findings: 1. The GNWT has assumed that tourism is an effective tool for diversifying and stabilizing the economy of the NWT. Indeed, it could be said that the GNWT has focused its hopes for an improved economic future on tourism. 2. The quantity and quality of information for planning collected by the GNWT has been 'inadequate'. No information on the tourism perceptions, desires and concerns of NWT residents was collected. 3. The Department of Economic Development and Tourism has recognized the shortage of data as a problem and has taken steps to address it. However, most new data being collected is marketing information with little relevance for policy and programme planning. 4. The goals and objectives of the NWT Tourism Strategy were drafted by technically oriented planners with access to little information on the perceptions, desires and concerns of NWT residents. The Strategy implicitly assumed that tourism would have a positive cost-benefit ratio, that increased tourism would diversify and stabilize the NWT's economic base, and that increased tourism would be well received in the small/remote communities of the Northwest Territories. 5. The GNWT's only formal statement of tourism development policy (the NWT Tourism Strategy) was articulated in Community Based' Tourism: A Strategy for the Northwest Territories Tourism Industry. 6. The GNWT used its Territorial Parks programme as a tool to foster tourism and spread its benefits across the NWT. 7. GNWT tourism planners and policy-makers have unquestioningly accepted the notion of "tourism [as] a desirable industry for the Northwest Territories", without exploring the long term implications of the striving for a tourism dependent economy. 8. The GNWT did not recognize/acknowledge that tourism was/is an export industry that may be subject to many of the unpredictable fluctuations that the primary industries were/are noted for. 9. The Northwest Territories is an example of a jurisdiction in which development planning, at least with regard to tourism development, has not occurred. By removing its planning efforts from the complex socio-economic reality of the Northwest Territories the GNWT's planning efforts can be said to be rational, but also top-down, and technocratic.

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