That’s how James Wu, marketing director of the Vancouver-based MCC Elite Club described his first-ever visit to the Cariboo during a stop in Williams Lake Monday.
Wu was on the Gold Rush Trail Tour with a group of Chinese investors from the Lower Mainland.
They started their tour on June 15 with stops in 100 Mile House, Clinton, 108 Resort, Eureka Peak, Xat’sull Heritage Village, Wells, Barkerville, Quesnel, Likely, Quesnel Forks, culminating in Williams Lake.
“It was the first time coming to the Cariboo for all the people on this tour,” Wu said. “We learned a lot about the Chinese heritage in the history of B.C. and were touched by how hard they worked and contributed to this country.”
Putting the tour together was a team effort involving the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association and leaders in each community, said Cariboo Regional District chair Al Richmond.
“James Wu told me what he wanted and each community co-ordinated what they would do with their regional district director,” Richmond said. “This was the first step — bringing them to the Cariboo to get to know them and now we can get down to specifics about business opportunities.”
During the tour delegates visited guide outfitters, went gold panning in Barkerville, saw First Nations dancers and a heritage village, met log home manufacturers and went river rafting, Richmond said, seeing something different in each community.
While in Williams Lake, the delegates toured the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin, then enjoyed a mini rodeo at the Williams Lake Stampede Grounds, followed by a Rotary Club of Williams Lake steak dinner and dancing to the music of the lakecity’s own Perfect Match.
Before the rodeo began C+ Rodeos manager Roy Call toured behind the scenes with the visitors, talking about the bulls and horses, how the rodeo works, and even arranged for several people to sit on a bull in one of the pens.
“We really liked the rodeo, the fishing, the mountains and want to promote tourism here,” said MCC Elite Club Ltd. president Shuguo Zhou, speaking through a translator. “We want to know what we can contribute to the local economy and find a way to help grow the tourism business.”
Zhou added they want to invite more Chinese investors to come and invest in the Cariboo region.
Sophia Nan, a writer and CEO of Global Fortune Investment Co. Ltd. said she was very thankful from the bottom of her heart for everyone’s warm welcome.
“Our ancestors have a peaceful place to rest here,” Nan said, speaking through a translator. “It’s been a trip of friendship and making connections with our ancestors and local people.”
On Tuesday some of the delegates toured Williams Lake with the economic development staff and directors to learn about investment opportunities, Mayor Walt Cobb said, while others went rafting on the Upper Chilcotin River.
The tour was anticipated to leave Williams Lake on Wednesday, June 22, to return to Vancouver.
Cobb said pictures of the tour have gone viral in China.
“I was walking down the street in Barkerville on Sunday and saw this woman standing alone doing something with her cell phone. I asked if she needed help and she said ‘no, I am just answering my e-mails and I have people in Vancouver asking where I am because they want to come follow you.’”