COLUMNS: Investing in tourism

I have long been a passionate advocate for tourism in our region.

I have long been a passionate advocate for tourism in our region.  From one of my first jobs at the Billy Barker Days festival, to working at the Visitor Centre, I know how important tourism is for our regional economy.

2017 marks Canada’s 150th Anniversary and we’re paying tribute to the founders of our country by investing in our heritage sites. Over the past four years, I’ve worked to secure funding for the preservation of one of our local treasures, Barkerville Historic Town.  Moving forward, our government is providing $11.25 million over three years for operating assistance, projects and maintenance at Barkerville. This is in addition to the $100,000 investment I proudly announced last fall from the Rural Dividend Fund that created a sustainability project at Barkerville Town and Park that consists of year-round recreational activities, food and accommodation options.

Living in the Cariboo, we know that increasing tourism also requires investments in infrastructure.  That’s why we’ve invested $90,000 to maintain the circle route between Wells and Likely to ensure continued transportation for tourists.

Arts and Culture also play an important role in attracting visitors and guests to our region.  An example of one such group is Island Mountain Arts, which draws visitors each year from the entire North West. Our government has supported this amazing organization over the years with over $271,000 to ensure they can continue their fantastic work as a local tourist attraction.

Finally, we’ve invested to develop a North Cariboo Trails inventory and master plan to assess the current and future needs of urban and rural trails in the region. In addition to this, our recent budget invested an additional $26 million over the next three years to hire more park rangers and strengthen conservation in our parks. I recognize the vital role that our trails and parks have for tourism.

With our region’s natural beauty and breathtaking backcountry, it’s clear why tourism is an essential part of our local economy. I look forward to seeing this industry continue to flourish, for the benefit of Cariboo North’s communities.

Coralee Oakes is the MLA for Cariboo North and Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction.