Exploring the Market Potential for Yukon Mountain Bike Tourism

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Uses studied:
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Place: Yukon Territory

Overview

This study found that the Yukon Territory in Canada has the potential to become a destination for mountain biking based on its undeveloped landscape, varied terrain that would accommodate a range of abilities, and existing network of old First Nations and prospector trails. The difficulty of reaching the Yukon by car or plane is a substantial obstacle that could be overcome for some visitors by marketing the area’s frontier reputation.

Relevance

This study is relevant for remote, rural areas that are interested in understanding their potential to be a mountain bike destination. The study provides an overview of the types of questions communities should ask, a summary of other communities’ experiences, and examples of short-, medium-, and long-term strategies to developing mountain bike tourism.

Location

This study is based in Yukon Territory in northwest Canada.

Trail Type

This study evaluates the potential for mountain bike tourism in the territory.

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to determine whether the Yukon Territory has the potential to become a mountain bike destination. This study was sponsored by Tourism Yukon and the Cycling Association of Yukon.

Findings

  • Other small communities in North Dakota, West Virginia, Wales, and Scotland (see 81) have developed mountain bike destinations despite their small size, remoteness, and lack of a major airport. The small and remote “frontier” reputation of the Yukon can be used to its advantage.
  • Developing a destination-quality trail system requires collaboration between local and provincial officials, businesses, and local riders.
  • Successful destinations have capitalized on the specific attributes that make their areas unique, including style of trails, landscape, and local culture.
  • Quantified estimates of economic impact over time (see 81 and 88 for examples) can help build and maintain support among local government and businesses. Data from economic impact surveys also help areas target marketing efforts.
  • The Yukon has the potential for a distinctively wild mountain bike experience, with highly varied terrain that can accommodate a range of abilities. The remote, wild character also presents a challenge in terms of access, safety, and bear and other wildlife encounters.
  • The local mountain biking community in the Yukon is enthusiastic but may not have the resources to support large-scale trail building, maintenance, and mapping.
  • The existing trails around Whitehorse and Carcross are high-quality, but need mapping and signage to make them more usable for visitors.
  • The Yukon has extensive old roads and doubletrack trails from First Nations, explorers, and prospectors. While these need to be augmented with singletrack, they can provide a basis for an extensive trail network.
  • The area needs to develop more supporting services, such as trail mapping and signage, bicycle-friendly accommodations, high-quality bike shops, and local guides.
  • Access to the Yukon is one of the biggest hurdles, as it is far from population centers, its airport serves a limited market, and many flights use planes too small to carry bicycles as cargo.
  • Area promotion through races and festivals can be effective, but should not happen before the area has enough high-quality trails to meet visitors’ expectations.

Methods

The author surveyed existing market research in other areas, gathered data on general trends in mountain biking participation and economic impact, and conducted interviews with tourism-related organizations, mountain bike industry members, and regional mountain biking groups.

Citation

Koepke, J. 2005. Exploring the Market Potential for Yukon Mountain Bike Tourism. Cycling Association of Yukon and Tourism Yukon.