The number of tourists visiting the Northwest Territories from China has eclipsed all other international visitor numbers, while the number of Japanese visitors dropped 40% last year.
Chinese visitors to the territory surpassed Japanese for the first time in the 2017-18 fiscal year, with just under 19,000 Chinese visitors, versus about 13,500 Japanese.
The decline in Japanese tourists may be related to the solar cycle and its effect on the aurora.
"The Japanese folks are taking more of a scientific standpoint to viewing aurora and when we have so-called solar minimum years, we tend to see fewer Japanese visitors," said Jess Fortner, director of tourism with the territorial government.
That margin widened dramatically last year. Statistics on arrivals at the Yellowknife Airport published last week by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment estimate that two-and-a-half times more Chinese visitors arrived in the 2018-19 fiscal year than Japanese visitors.
Solar flare rates have been trending downward since 2014, and are expected to reach a minimum in 2020. The next solar maximum is expected in 2025.
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