TORONTO -- A group of islands in British Columbia and a northern Manitoba town can expect a boost in tourism after receiving high praise from The New York Times travel section.

Haida Gwaii, B.C., and Churchill, Man., both cracked the newspaper’s annual list of “52 Places to go.”

Haida Gwaii, an archipelago off the coast of northern British Columbia, came in at number 26, while Churchill was ranked at 29. Washington, D.C., the British Virgin Islands and Rurrenabaque, Bolivia make up the top three.

Amy Virshup, a travel editor at The New York Times, told CTV News Channel that sustainability emerged as a theme throughout the list, which fits Haida Gwaii perfectly.

“Haida Gwaii was really on there as a sustainable place that is being managed by the Haida Gwaii First Nations people to be able to maintain its beauty,” she said. 

The people of Haida Gwaii maintain a strict limit on how many tourists can visit at any one time and those who choose to visit must be accompanied by a local guide, only adding to the sustainability of the region, she added.

In 2017, severe flooding in Manitoba damaged the only rail line to Churchill, effectively cutting the town off from the rest of the world. The railway was eventually reopened in November 2018, which Virshup said is part of the reason for Churchill’s spot on the list.

“The train coming back is really the impetus,” she said.

Popular tourist activities in Churchill include polar bear viewing -- Churchill is the polar bear capital of the world -- and checking out the northern lights.

In 2019, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. (10) and Calgary (20) made the list, while Saskatoon (18) made 2018 edition.


Virshup said the travel team at The New York Times first meets in September to begin compiling the annual travel list. They also speak with freelance travel writers and people known for frequent travel for advice regarding which spots could be included.  

“We ask ourselves: ‘Ok, if we could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?’ and we kick off from there,” she said.

The editors will then debate the list over several meetings until they come to a conclusion.

Virshup said one point of emphasis when compiling the list is focusing on places with new attractions.