Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association chair Andre Kuerbis.

Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association chair Andre Kuerbis.

Good year for tourism projected

It will be good year for tourism predicts the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association’s new chair.

It will be good year for tourism predicts the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association’s new chair.

“We are waiting for the final numbers, but when you talk to everyone they say last year was a good one,” Andre Kuerbis told the Tribune from Vancouver Island where he was en route to a trade show. “We have a great region. We are special and have a different kind of product.”

Kuerbis has been on the CCCTA board since 2013 and owns a consulting business where he works with tourism and guide-outfiitters throughout the region.

He outlined several key priorities the board will continue to tackle in the coming year.

Top of the list is the reinstatement of the ferry service between Port Hardy and Bella Coola in 2018.

“Looking at the big picture, the ferry is not something that only impacts the coast,” Kuerbis said. “We have had feedback from people that operate in the Kootenays that felt an impact when it was discontinued. A lot of visitors like to do the circle route, coming up from Calgary and going through the province and then taking the ferry over to Vancouver Island or the other way around.”

Destination development planning for the region is also a priority, Kuerbis said.

“We are working on a project in co-operation with Destination BC getting everyone that is involved in the broader scale of tourism at one table,” Kuerbis said. “We are looking at the issues that are out there and anything else that has an impact in any way on moving forward. At the end of the day getting more visitors into the area, while at the same time making sure it is a sustainable approach and not just a project.”

For the last three years the CCCTA has been working on a Municipal Regional District Tax initiative, said CEO Amy Thacker.

“This provides a substantial opportunity to shift the marketing playing field to the advantage of our regional operators,” Thacker said. “The tourism business industry has provided overwhelming support as the CCCTA moves to request letters of support from our elected officials.”

It is also good for B.C.’s tourism economy when the US dollar is strong. she added.

“In addition a strong US dollar means other international markets start to look at trips to Canada with added value,” she said. “Most of the long haul markets that are key to the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast have been showing steady growth for consecutive years with no change predicted.”

Transportation is always a big topic for the region, Kuerbis added.

Fraser Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart, Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett and the mayor of Lillooet are working with the board to push for the return of passenger rail service to the Cariboo, he said.