Travellers trying to book a circle tour involving Bella Coola are discovering that ferry space is often not available.
And those who do make the voyage are complaining about the inconvenience of the 16.5-hour trip between Port Hardy on Vancouver Island and Bella Coola — nine hours of it on an inappropriate vessel arriving in Bella Coola at midnight.
While travellers arriving in Bella Coola on the Nimpkish are lavishing great praise on the crew for their efforts to make the experience enjoyable, many say they would not recommend the Nimpkish experience to others.
The business loss this season is only part of the gloom that has descended on the tourism industry in the wake of cuts to Bella Coola ferry service.
With no indication from BC Ferries or the government that plans are under way to address the financial concerns of area businesses, some fear that the damage is much more far-reaching.
Because international travel agencies require months and years to arrange tour packages that depend on reliable bookings, many won’t consider recommending travel involving BC Ferries. Such agencies need guarantees of schedules and fares for as long as five years, and as one operator put it, BC Ferries and the BC government have created such a climate of uncertainty that “European tour operators won’t touch B.C. as a destination.”
Tourism businesses also fear the damage to the region’s reputation caused by the Route 40 cancellation and the Nimpkish replacement.
The Coast Mountain News plans to publish a comprehensive report on passenger reactions to the Nimpkish experience in the Aug. 14 issue.