Victoria Announces Measures to Upgrade Aboriginal Tourism
Prince George, B.C. – The provincial government has made an announcement it hopes will help boost Aboriginal Tourism and the mid-coast economy of British Columbia.
The provincial government and BC Ferries have committed to establishing a seasonal direct ferry service between Port Hardy and Bella Coola.
Victoria says the service will begin in time for the 2018 summer tourism season and note the search for a vessel has already begun to make that happen.
The new service will require the provincial government to amend the Coastal Ferry Services Contract. In the mean time the government will work with BC Ferries, the Aboriginal Tourism Association and others to determine how to best serve the tourism sector in the region.
The government says the new service will encourage the development of new cultural and eco-tourism options in the region and build jobs.
Just under 5 million international visitors came to B.C. last year – and increase of almost 8% from the year before.
The Province says one of the big draws to the mid-coast is the Great Bear Rainforest. Last February Victoria announced full protection of 85% of the area’s forests.
Along with the new ferry service, the provincial government is investing almost $200,000 in B.C. Air Access Program funding for the Bella Bella Airport.
The money will allow for the construction of a terminal building with the Bella Bella Airport Authority providing the rest of the funding for the project – $480,000.
Complementing the new service and airport upgrade is the recently completed $6.2 million project to upgrade a large portion of Highway 20 outside of Bella Coola.
The Province also announced its providing up to $2.5 million over three years to support the continued development of the First Nations Sustainable Economic Strategy by the BC Assembly of First Nations.
The plan aims to build on discussions this past spring at regional development sessions BCAFN held at First Nations communities’ province-wide.
Victoria says the money “will support a variety of initiatives within the strategy to advance sustainable economic reconciliation with First Nations and provide tangible results for people within those communities.”