The NDP’s Critic for Tourism

Tourism critic explores the North

Spencer Herbert, the NDP’s Tourism, Culture and the Arts, spent the final days of last week’s severe cold snap in the Northwest.

Spencer Herbert, the NDP’s Tourism, Culture and  the Arts, spent the final days of last week’s severe cold snap in the Northwest, away from the relatively mildness of his home riding of Vancouver-West End.

He was in the north to get a sense of what the province is like in the rural areas. He’s been to Prince Rupert before, and to Prince George, but not to places in-between.

“I think it’s important government actually visits the places its decisions will affect,” he said. “You know the north is quite different from Vancouver and Victoria.”

In each community, including the Hazeltons and Smithers, he’s been meeting with local people and organizations that is affected by tourism.

“One of the things we’ve heard consistently is the government has been acting in a way that leads to great uncertainty,” he said.

By that he’s referring to what he sees as instability in the way B.C. markets itself for tourism. TourismBC was the industry-led tourism outfit in the province but that was done away with just before the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Now that tourism is under a government ministry, he said that takes away from the stablity for tourist outfits to know what their resources are going to be on a stable basis.

“That really affects folks like Gladys Atrill and Tourism Smithers,” he said.

What he said people are saying is that they want a model like TourismBC brought back.

“We have fewer tourists today than we had before the Olympics and in particular in the Northwest,” he said.

He does say that there are a variety of factors in that, including people being more price conscious.

Alberta, however, has adopted a model similar to TourismBC and have seen an increase in tourism.

The tour of the North was a fact-finding mission over anything else.

“It gives me the opportunity to go into the legislature along with Doug [Donaldson] and be able to speak more knowledgeably about the challenge facing Northern B.C.”