Tourism operators speak out against forest management policies

Tourism businesses in the Discovery Islands are charging the government with indifference to the needs of a major economic player

There’s a new confrontation brewing in British Columbia forests and it’s coming from an unlikely source.

The latest battle to protect Vancouver Island’s forests isn’t being waged by an environmental organization…it’s being waged by business: In particular, the tourism industry. A coalition of tourism businesses in the Discovery Islands, near Campbell River are charging the government with indifference to the needs of a major economic player in the region.

The Discovery Islands Marine Tourism Group is a coalition of businesses including the local Chamber of Commerce, which claims provincial forest policies designed by the BC Liberal government are encouraging the forest industry to clear cut forests along marine corridors which are critical to the survival of a large wilderness based tourism industry.

The group went public with its concerns by publishing a full page ad in the Victoria Times Colonist criticizing the government for its inaction. Spokesperson Ralph Keller says the group wanted to send a strong message to government that forest management polices aren’t working for Discovery Islands business, employees and their families.

“We’ve spent a lot of time and money trying to convince the government there’s a serious problem here but they’re not listening.”

The Discovery Islands are home to over 120 tourism-dependent businesses: lodges, resorts, motels, campgrounds, marinas, tour companies, and related operations which employ over 1,200 people and generate 45 million dollars in revenue every year.

“The Discovery Islands have become a world class destination worthy of increased protection.” Keller said. He went on to say that tourism operators are kept completely in the dark about cutting plans.