Fostering walking tourism

Contents, this page

Sept 19, 2014. Yukon Walking Strategy shows how by being creative as a community and thinking walking, we will create a walking destination for tourists.

When my family travels, often overseas, part of each trip is around walking — hikes, trails, neat places to walk, walking festivals. We're not alone in searching for walks on our trips. Tourists come to the Yukon to learn about the land, its peoples and to experience the outdoors.

For thousands of years, First Nation people travelled the Yukon. Their trails linked sources food and trading partners; they were very aware of their place on the land. The tourism niche of walking in the Yukon seems a perfect fit.

We live in an incredibly beautiful place with very nice hiking. What would it take for the Yukon to become a walking destination? Could we blend this with the desire for healthier communities?

Making walking tourism a reality requires that interested parties take action. It can't just be up to governments — although the Yukon government is well poised to develop walking tourism as is seen by the many opportunities its different departments and programs offer around community development, environmental awareness, health, education, youth, and general community wellness. See my learning from others Walking events and Walking, trails page for examples from other places.

My community walking page is a start at listing existing walking opportunities throughout the Yukon.

A big task is getting people to say: I can't wait to walk there! The bigger task is getting a Yukon voice to make this happen!

What is walking tourism?

It's when a community or government identifies walking as an attraction for tourists and works to not only market community walking trails as a destination, but to ensure that the trails are safe, attractive destinations.

What if...

...What if walking tourism was a part of Tourism Yukon's overall tourism marketing strategy where the Yukon was promoted as a walking destination, encouraging people to visit just to walk our trails?

...What if there were featured walking trails in each community, campground and highway rest stop which

...What if there was a Yukon-wide walking strategy that was

--- What if trail-learning — tourism, geography, botany, biology and other sciences — was a core learning experience and

Government role in walking tourism

A big topic I 'm trying to learn is around how walking fits into the varying government initiatives. I'm trying to understand the role of Yukon Tourism. Does walking tourism fit the concept of tourism product? There's nothing to sell and no-one to sell it. A visitor comes here and goes for a walk. Tourism, by designating walking tourism as a target growth sector could play a needed role in encouraging this concept.

How does Economic Development fit? How does the need of communities for walking infrastructure get satisfied? For instance, programs like CDF could fund an item like a pedestrian bridge in downtown Whitehorse, but most communities, Whitehorse included, have no walking advocate, either staff position or community group. Is there such a person in Economic Development?

Yukon Environment's very active wildlife viewing program has started to refer to "wildlife viewing and nature appreciation in Yukon." How this will fit with the greater picture of geography/geology and safety as in not getting lost as opposed to bear awareness is not clear yet.

I've not identified a Yukon Trails type of focus. Perhaps it doesn't exist? Tourism Cultural efforts seem more about collections, museums, historical sites, than daily life on the land that can best be understood while out walking trails.

Municipally, the City of Whitehorse has an office for Outreach & Events; it doesn't appear to be pursuing a walking tourism focus but again, I've not explored this office's efforts. It is afiliated with the city's trails department so perhaps in the future this will happen?

TIA Yukon

The Tourism Industry Asociation of the Yukon is a membership-based association of tourism-related businesses and organizations.The stated purpose of TIAY is to forge a common voice and actions to influence, promote and assist the development of tourism in the Yukon.

Under their priorities for 2013-14: COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT Continue to support efforts to develop cultural districts and communities. - Ex. Dawson (ie. UNESCO), Whitehorse (ie. Whitehorse Waterfront).

I still need to research their role.

Facts about our visitors

Role of walking in tourism industry

Tourism here is around products or services such as guided trips and places to stay, with a lot of emphasis on vehicle travel around the Yukon. Tour companies are often focussed on trips where people leave for adventures outside communities within a day of arriving in Whitehorse. Hiking is often offered by companies that promote hiking as part of other adventure trips, such as canoeing.

Tourism's Product Development Partnership Program funds new tourism niches. Would walking tourism fit? If it does, and it should, we should:

Someone who comes and walks would have a great visit. They'd have driven or flown here. They'd still need accommodations, food, gifts. They'd likely attend art events, have a drink, maybe even rent a vehicle, or a bike or canoe for a day or so. Some might hire a guide, or book a multi-day trip. They may well return to explore more.

The number of international visitors to Canada has plunged 20 per cent since 2000 even as global travel soars, according to a sobering report being released Thursday by Deloitte Canada. Globe and Mail,November 14. 2013.

Walking tourism and First Nations

Skills for walking tourism

Local training for a walking Yukon

Community trails should be part of school-based class projects blending traditional cultural ways, place names and language, natural history

Walking and community wellness

Walking tourism and the economy

The 2014 Vacation Planner states:

Strong Yukon laws protect both wilderness travellers and our world-renowned wilderness. Operators from the Yukon or elsewhere who take clients into the Yukon wilderness for any gain or reward require a Yukon Wilderness Tourism Licence. If you are planning a wilderness trip, be sure to confirm your operator is licensed. Visit www.yukonparks.ca for a current list of licensed wilderness operators whom have met strict requirements, including public liability insurance coverage and valid First Aid/CPR certification. Low-impact camping and waste disposal must be practised!

It focuses on high-yield customers from the markets that have traditionally provided longer stay and/or higher spending per stay and better return on investment for Yukon. There is not a strong focus on the many travellers who just would want to walk or hike.

Whitehorse and walking visitors

Those of us who walk know what a great place it is here — Whitehorse has great hikes. But do visitors to Whitehorse know this, or do they just treat Whitehorse as a jumping-off place for the rest of the Yukon and Alaska?

Visit the Wilderness City and pick your passion: Mountain biking on historic singletrack at Carcross? Alpine hiking in Kluane National Park? Paddling on the Yukon River? Make Yukon's capital your base and enjoy Whitehorse's great dining and attractions.
travelYukon website

The recent Memorandum of Understanding between the city and Tourism Yukon focuses on sport tourism. While this is a growing tourism market, it doesn't address the less competitive, inquisitive healthy-living walker who wants to go for a walk, who wants to learn where good walks and hikes can happen. Walking seems to be a niche tourism market awaiting development.


It's quite interesting to flip through some of these various reports and think solely of walking. Very often it will be that while walking is not directly addressed, it easily fits.


From Tourism Yukon publications:

From The Canadian Tourism Industry, a special report Fall, 2012:

From Tourism Yukon's situational analysis which answered "What makes up the tourism industry in the Yukon?

The Tourism and Visitor Development in Downtown Whitehorse, 2012 by Main Street Yukon Society noted:

The Demand for aboriginal cultural tourism in Yukon reported that "the five highest-rated overall experiences were:

From a two-day Placemaking workshop which "presented an approach to community development that focuses on using a community's existing benefits to attract residents, visitors and businesses.

"The workshop helped participants to define their communities and develop their community narratives, examining what makes each Yukon community unique and how they can further use their human, natural, cultural and structural assets for sustainable economic development and improved wellbeing of residents.

Through the eyes of strangers: a preliminary survey of land use history in the Yukon during the late nineteenth century, Julie Cruikshank, 1974 has a number of references to trails both specific and conceptual.

But he noted that there was a very definite and repeated pattern of land use and that a thorough knowledge of all the trails interconnecting the country was acquired by band members:
" I have been puzzled in some cases how after an Indian had killed game, returned to a camp and given it to another, the receiver could set out and actually find it. The method is this. A network of trails covers the whole country and each hunter knows them all within a restricted area. The killer of game simply describes the trail which passes closest to the meat and indicates at what point and direction the trail is to be left and roughly to what distance. A brief description of the locality concludes the instructions. Very often the man going for the meat knows the country so well he can visualize the location before he starts. In any case, a big piece of moss is left to hang conspicuously in a tree near the meat." (Osgood, 1936, pp. 58-9).

One interesting trail led from the vicinity of Carmacks on the Yukon over the divide into the Nlsl1ng drainage where it passed through the Ptarmigan Heart Valley. It went over a pass into Henry Creek and from there to Red Tail Lake. Crossing the Kluane and Donjek Rivers it led into the mountains to the upper reaches of the White River ... there are branches of the trail leading to Kluane Lake, Aishihik, and so on. In travelling over portions of this trail we saw that it had been used enough to wear a deep path" ((Johnson and Raup, 1964, p. 196).

The Arctic Institute of Community-Based Research "maintains capacity building as a foundational approach. Collaboration and partnerships are an essential element of capacity building, done through a "bottom-up" or grassroots, community-based approach. It works on the individual, organization, and community level; increasing the capacity of one, helps to support and strengthen others. Positive outcomes include:
  • expanded citizen participation
  • expanded leadership base
  • strengthened individual skills
  • the creation of a widely shared understanding and vision
  • the development of a strategic community agenda
  • evidence of consistent, tangible progress toward goals
  • evidence of more effective community organizations and institutions
  • evidence of better resource utilization by the community

Pathways to wellness, conversation • connection • commitment. A background paper for a government program looking at how to keep people and communities well.

Traditions benefit all Yukoners Yukon First Nations people have lived for many centuries on this land we share today. As a people, they faced colonization, loss of land and culture, and residential schools, and their health has suffered as a result.

Through it all, First Nations have shown great resilience. They have retained many values and traditions which can inspire and benefit all of us — living close to and in harmony with nature, the importance of family, and the ethic of sharing, to name a few.

We can't rely on individual willpower alone. We also need to change the physical and social environments in our homes and communities so that healthy choices are easier to make.

Improving wellness is complex. Individuals, communities, and all levels of governments have important roles to play.

In order to be successful in closing the wellness gap, we need to keep the needs and life circumstances of people who face more barriers – low income families, rural residents, and First Nations people – at the forefront. This is an important way to achieve health for all.

Think big, act local Planning for health works best when people take action together on local issues which affect them personally. Every person can be a source of knowledge, strength and wisdom. Better, more creative solutions are found when many people contribute. In the process, relationships, trust and commitment are built. This is social support in action!

Community members are more knowledgeable about local strengths and priorities, and are often able to act more quickly than central governments. Many people acting together can accomplish more than the same number of people acting alone.

Success builds on success. Communities which experience a sense of accomplishment in one area often move on to other, bigger challenges because they have built a strong foundation for creating a better future together.

We know that health is influenced by many factors. We can't tackle them all at once but we can focus our efforts on promoting wellbeing, and preventing illness and injury.

We also know that the biggest return on our efforts comes when we ensure that our children get a healthy start in life, and young people are given opportunities to belong, achieve, and contribute. There is no better place to begin.