The fight to save the Discovery Coast Ferry is not going away, say tourism operators in the Cariboo-Chilcotin Coast.
“This is not the right decision, economically or for the region as far as access,” said Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association CEO Amy Thacker.
Along with Save the Discovery Coast — the group working to save the ferry — CCCTA says the route can be profitable if it’s run properly.
“In the meantime, 2014 is lost. Hopefully, working with government, we can come up with some mitigation and compensation to support the industry through this transition time,” Thacker said.
Minister of State for Small Business Naomi Yamamoto met with board members in Williams Lake to hear concerns from regional tourism operators.
“This meeting was an important step to discuss the future of tourism industry in the region,” Yamamoto said, adding she will visit Bella Coola and Anahim Lake to meet with tourism operators to continue the dialogue.
Anahim Lake tourism operator Petrus Rykes said the Discovery Coast ferry cancellation has given the region a “black eye” internationally.
“Some of the European tourism operators will have nothing to do with BC Ferries anymore. They had a partnership with tourism and ferries and that was cut off midstream,” Rykes said.
The cancellation of the ferry is a blow to First Nations communities said tourism and community development consultant and CCCTA board member, Cheryl Chapman.
Since the mid 1990s she has encouraged communities to work on developing tourism opportunities that tie into the Discovery Coast Ferry route and to realize what they can present to the world.
“We saw the success of the Four Host First Nations involvement with the 2010 Olympic Games and the legacy of Aboriginal Tourism,” Chapman said.
Communities have worked hard to develop tourism strategies that rely on the ferry and now the main highway access to some of those communities is gone, Chapman said, adding she wouldn’t want to travel on the Nimpkish and wouldn’t want anyone else to because it’s not safe.
“I guess that’s the mother in me.”