Column: New ferry a chance to diversify economy

Tourism businesses in the Cariboo Chilcotin can look forward to a bright future.

Tourism businesses in the Cariboo Chilcotin can look forward to a bright future – and locals can expect to see their options for provincial travel expanded.

By the beginning of summer 2018’s tourist season, there will be a direct ferry link between Port Hardy and Bella Coola, thanks to a recent agreement between our BC Liberal government and BC Ferries.

As your MLA, securing this ferry service has been a priority for me over the last two years. Working with the Cariboo-Chilcotin tourism industry and our local First Nations toward this goal has been a long, collaborative process – one that our community can be proud of, and which has produced the best possible outcome. I’m proud to have been a part of securing this project and look forward to the benefits the ferry will bring to the Cariboo Chilcotin region.

With 4.9 million international visitors in 2015 – 7.9 percent more than our province welcomed in 2014 – there is no question that British Columbia’s tourism industry is booming. One of fastest-growing sectors within that industry is Aboriginal tourism; improved access to in-demand cultural tourist destinations will help us take advantage of that trend and further boost Aboriginal tourism. Ultimately, by encouraging the development of new cultural and eco-tourism options, the new ferry service will give our region an opportunity to diversify and strengthen our economy.

The restoration of this service represents the return of a first-class tourism product that the Cariboo Chilcotin can now market to visitors from across Canada and around the world. We will be able to offer local and international tourists a stunning scenic drive through our province, with a route that includes not only the beautiful Cariboo Chilcotin region, but also the Great Bear Rainforest, one of BC’s world-renowned ecological gems.

Of course, increased access to the treasures in our backyard is not only good news for our out-of-town visitors – it also opens up exciting opportunities for local residents to get out and explore and enjoy more of our very own, Beautiful BC.

Contact MLA Barnett’s constituency office:

Phone: (250) 395-3916