According to the 2007 Prince Rupert Visitor Study, during June, July and August of 2007, about 189,000 visitors to Prince Rupert contributed over $52 million to our economy.
Of the many different types of visitors who come to Prince Rupert, anglers are by far the most valuable. Just eight per cent of those 189,000 visitors, about 15,000, were here for fishing, but they contributed 31 per cent of the total expenditure, or just over $16 million.
It is important to realize that at the beginning of the June – August 2007 study period our sport fishing industry was slaughtered: a mudslide cut off Highway 16 on May 28, followed by flooding. The highway reopened on June 10, but, in the tire-driven world of sport fishing, uncertainty surrounding the link had already caused cancellations far beyond that. It was a costly disaster. So we assume that the totals could have been higher than they were during those three months, but the percentages were certainly sound.
Guided anglers made up 69 per cent of all visiting anglers, about 11,000 guided versus 4,000 independent. About 33 per cent of anglers are from British Columbia, 52 per cent from other points in Canada, primarily Alberta, seven per cent from the US, and three per cent from international markets. Anglers offer very high repeat visitation, and drive higher than normal hotel nights.
Guided anglers tend to come in parties of three or four, and spend about three days fishing and four days in the community, while independents come in smaller parties (2.67) and tend to spend four days fishing and six days in the community. Both guided and independent spend roughly $2,400 – $2,800 per party per day throughout Prince Rupert.
Bear in mind that these are primarily local operators and guides, who live and raise families in Prince Rupert, so this is money that stays in Prince Rupert.
Sport fishing gets some bad press. Gossip on the waterfront suggests all sorts of horrific practices. The stories aren’t usually true. I’m not saying that there are not unscrupulous practices in any industry. There are unlicenced, fly-by-night fishing guides who offer cut-rate, back alley charter trips. There are independent visitors who set up miniature processing plants. We need to stop these practices. The best way to do it is to advocate for increased DFO and DOT enforcement.
In my opinion, one of the most positive developments in our tourism industry over the past year has been the introduction of the Tidal Angling Guide Training Program (TAG). This initiative of the Sport Fishing Institute of BC (SFI), and Propel, the industry training division of go2, allows us to benchmark professional sport fishing guides, and market the sport fishing experience with a high degree of confidence.
SFI lays out the following goals for the program: to create a set of standards, and training, that allow BC guides to be world leaders in customer satisfaction, service, safety and recognition; to create an organization of guides committed to these standards; to contribute to the effective management of sustainable fisheries resource use; and, to recognize the value and importance of the relationship between tourism and sport fishing in BC.
We need to be concerned about the sustainability of the fishery as well as the sport fishing experience. We need to help our local sport fishing operators build a successful business that will sustain them over the coming years. They bring a tremendous benefit to our touris industry.