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Tourism perspective vital to growing ferry service and jobs on B.C.’s North Coast

By BCShippingNews 01 May 2018
Tourism perspective vital to growing ferry service and jobs on B.C.’s North Coast
Wave Point Consulting report highlights potential for tourism growth...

Independent research commissioned by Tourism Prince Rupert makes a compelling case for the primary importance of designing BC ferry services to meet the needs of the Tourism industry and its customers.

A new study led by Wave Point Consulting highlights the potential for tourism growth and the crucial role that BC Ferries can play in supporting and sustaining economic development on Northern Vancouver Island, and in Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii and communities across British Columbia that service Totem Route travellers.

Drawing attention to the fact that the greatest opportunities for sustainable economic development in Northern BC lie in the Tourism sector, the report calls for a number of actions on the part of the Provincial Government and BC Ferries, including:

  • Recognizing that BC Ferries plays a critical role in supporting the development of the Tourism sector in Northern BC;
  • Extending the peak summer season sailing schedule into June and September, which would increase service capacity during these periods - similar to the peak season schedule that was in place prior to 2014.
  • Providing a five-year service guarantee for BC Ferries Northern Routes – to enhance the degree of certainty that tourism operators have with respect to ferry schedules; and
  • Engaging in sustained dialogue and collaboration with stakeholders in the Tourism sector – to address challenges and to make the most of the economic opportunities.

The relationship between the ferry service and the Tourism industry needs to be mutually beneficial. Scott Farwell, Chair of Tourism Prince Rupert noted that, “The Tourism sector is vital for sustaining traffic levels and driving growth on BC Ferries North routes. Not only would an enhanced ferry service support an expansion of tourism experiences for travellers to Northern BC but a vibrant Tourism sector in the region could, over the longer term, help BC Ferries meet its passenger targets.”

The commissioned study represents a first opportunity to bring the voice of the Tourism sector to the discussion about the future of the service provided by BC Ferries. It is a perspective that the study authors and Tourism Prince Rupert trusts the Provincial Government will pay close attention to as part of its current Coastal Ferry Services Review.

Scott Farwell said, “For too long the voice of the tourist customer has been missing from government policy decisions regarding BC Ferries service levels. The research report demonstrates the need for immediately extending ferry service in the shoulder seasons. Small business owners have told us how cuts in service have negatively impacted their businesses. Now is the time to introduce the report's recommendations so that the economies of the local communities - and communities across the province –  can grow and thrive.”

A copy of the report – including the recommendations made to Government and BC Ferries – can be found at: http://wavepointconsulting.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/NorthCoastFerryServiceReportApril232018webcopy.pdf.