Traveling to the Canadian Arctic and Native Inuit Communities
There have been more travelers going to the Canadian Arctic region in recent years for both business and tourism. Adventure tourism companies are beginning to promote the Arctic as a unique destination to experience the natural beauty and wildlife of the north as well as the culture of the native Inuit who live there. As a result of the creation of the Nunavut territory and government, the capital city of Iqaluit has been growing as Inuit from smaller Arctic communities migrate to the city for more job opportunities. This growth has created the increase of business travelers to the Arctic.
Getting to the Arctic has always been a problem for travelers since there are no roads that go up there from southern Canadian cities. The Arctic communities are very isolated from the rest of Canada as well as from each other. Flying in has been the only option although many coastal Arctic areas are serviced by cargo boat during the summers as well. For the average traveler, the air option is the only way to go. Although travel to the Canadian Arctic has increased, the number of travelers going up north is very small compared to number of travelers between southern Canadian cities. As a result, the major Canadian carrier Air Canada and certainly none of the US carriers service the Arctic. The only commercial airlines which service the Arctic (Nunavut and Northwest Territories) for the average traveler are First Air and Canadian North. A smaller airline called Air Inuit services the native Inuit communities in Nunavik (Arctic Quebec). First Air and Canadian North both fly out of Ottawa. First Air also flies out of Montreal while Canadian North also has flights departing from Edmonton and Calgary. These Canadian North flights will stop in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories before continuing to Nunavut. So travelers will have to get to one of these Canadian cities from their points of origin in order to connect with an Arctic carrier. Getting to a smaller Arctic community such as Cape Dorset will involve an additional connection in Iqaluit.
The number of all flights to the Arctic is predictably few in comparison to other domestic flights in Canada. Therefore, Arctic flights are always expensive no matter which travel day of the week. Staying for a Saturday night will not result in cheaper airfares either. The high cost of flights has always been the major obstacle for Arctic travel and will likely not change in the near future. The growth of Arctic tourism will still be limited because of the expensive travel involved. However, if one is willing to pay for it, a trip to the Canadian Arctic is one that will certainly be memorable and satisfying.
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