NDP Tourism critic

NDP Tourism critic

Provincial tourism critic comes to Rupert to learn about tourism in the north

NDP tourism critic, Spencer Hebert, came to Prince Rupert to learn about the opportunities and challenges in the city's tourism industry.

The provincial NDP tourism critic, Spencer Hebert, was in Prince Rupert on Wednesday to talk to the city’s tourism operators about their concerns and needs for expanding the industry here. The Rupert visit is part of a larger tour of northern BC by Hebert to get a better sense of the opportunities for tourism that exist outside the lower mainland.

I want to know about the huge opportunities up here, but also what the challenges are and raise that with the current minister, and so that I have that knowledge. There’s an election coming up and anything could happen. But really, there’s so many opportunities up here, its a great place to visit,” says Hebert.

Hebert was shown around Prince Rupert and its many tourist-dependent businesses by Tourism Prince Rupert, a municipally-funded organization dedicated to promoting the city as a tourist destination to outside markets. The organizations CEO, Bruce Wishart says that making sure people like Hebert understand what is going on in the Prince Rupert tourism industry is just good policy.

Any time you can have a provincial voice understand better what we’re doing here its a benefit to us. It’s not just the ministers, not just the staff of the ministry; everybody in the legislature has to understand our opportunities and challenges. Someone like the tourism critic can bring some of our concerns forward and help us watch out for northern interests,” says Wishart.

Hebert says he was taken all over Prince Rupert to speak with different business owners about their challenges. He went to Cow Bay Cafe where they discussed provincial liquor policy, Prince Rupert Adventure Tours about how tourism and the cruise ships impact their business, the Pioneer Hostel where they talked about promoting hostels as accommodation for budget-conscious tourists, he also attended the chamber of commerce’s luncheon.

I’d say we have a big opportunity here and my question [for the Tourism Minister] is: what is the Tourism Industry doing to end the uncertainty that tourism businesses have had to face for the past two-and-a-half years,” says Hebert.

Not surprisingly, Hebert lays responsibility for many of the tourism industry’s problems on the ruling Liberal Party.

I think the HST has been a drag on the industry, We got rid of our tourism marketer, Tourism BC, and replaced it with political leadership instead of industry leadership, which was a huge mistake. We haven’t benefitted from the Olympic boost like we were supposed to. But I think we can turn that around,” says Hebert.

Hebert admits that part of tourism industry’s problems has been caused by the recession but he doesn’t believe it is the primary cause. One solution he says he is pushing for is giving cultural institutions like the museum a bigger cut of provincial gaming revenues to the tune of 156-million.

We’ve got to invest in our cultural infrastructure, that’s one way to turn tourism around,” says Hebert.

At the end of his visit to the city Hebert met with members of the city council and other groups at a small gathering at the Museum of Northern BC before heading off to other communities on his tour of the north.

















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