WATCH: A new study indicates that reduction to mid-coast ferry services have cost the government almost a million dollars in lost tax revenue. Rumina Daya reports.
VANCOUVER – Tourism operators in the West Chilcotin say BC Ferries cuts have cost them nearly $4 million in lost revenue.
A new economic impact study released Monday morning shows service cuts made to the Discovery Coast ferry service also left visitors with negative impressions.
“The government did not undertake a single economic study before making these reckless cuts. Not one,” said Petrus Rykes, vice president of the West Chilcotin Tourism Association, in a release. “This is the first comprehensive review of the impact these changes have had, and it confirms our worst fears. The government has managed to cost itself money, not save it.”
The research was conducted by the West Chilcotin Tourism Association, with the report saying the $725,000 saved by BC Ferries does not make up for the tourism industry’s losses.
The study found a big drop in same day ridership between Port Hardy and Bella Coola from nearly 5,000, down to fewer than 2,700. It also concluded that an estimated 37 tourism jobs were lost due to service reductions.
“Transportation Minister Todd Stone gutted tourism in this region with these cuts, and the bleeding is going to continue for years if it’s not stopped,” said Rykes in a release. “There are phenomenal growth opportunities for tourism here, if the government would only stop being hostile to its own best interests and the best interests of the region.”
Beat Steiner, owner of Tweedsmuir Park Lodge in Bella Coola, said in a press conference on Monday that since ferry route 40 was cut, Bella Coola is only accessible by one road.
“We definitely knew right away when this announcement came through that there was going to be some pretty severe consequences to the tourism business in Bella Coola,” he said, adding that tourist numbers from the ferry have dropped by almost 50 per cent in the last year.
“So we’re thinking that about $3.9 million in tourism-related revenues have been lost,” said Steiner, “translating into the $870,000 worth of taxes that are not collected any longer.”
He said the damage caused by closing the route does not make up for the $725,000 in savings.
“It’s definitely hurting a lot of people in Bella Coola,” said Steiner. “Bella Coola’s just recovering from the loss of the forestry industry, commercial fishing.”
He said they need a ferry service to Bella Coola.
You can read the full report here.