Ferry schedule at odds with tourism season

  • Mon Feb 16th, 2015 6:00am
  • News

By Stacey MarpleHaida Gwaii ObserverAs the Haida Gwaii tourism season is quickly approaching, B.C Ferries have decided to make another adjustment to their ever-changing schedule. The summer schedule will start five days later in June this year, with an added six days in September. It’s a minor adjustment, but the situation is adding to a list of local annoyances. In a study done by Misty Island Economic Development Society (MIEDS) in September 2014, it was found that on-going reductions in the scheduling have cumulatively reduced the tourism season by two months. The tourism industry supports 11 per cent of the overall Island economy and employs about 445 people. The inability to confirm space on the vessel has resulted in a number of visitors choosing alternative destinations. Every sector of the local economy relies on an efficient BC Ferries schedule. But B.C Ferries implemented schedule adjustments last year to address the BC government’s decision for service reductions on many of their routes, which is why the summer sailing season is shorter.  “This year we are starting a bit later in June so that we can run a bit later in September, as there are more tourism opportunities in September,” said a B.C Ferries spokesperson. With the loss of 52 annual round trip sailings to Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert, the Haida Gwaii economy has lost thousands of dollars in extra expenditures as people try to work around the new schedule, according to MIEDS. Islanders have routinely asked BC Ferries to consider a schedule that recognizes the local tourism season runs from May until the end of September. For a small bed and breakfast, missing those two months of business represents 30 per cent of their operating season. The changes to the Kwuna schedule have resulted in a loss of 1,564 annual round trips. This also will affect the tourism season as access to activities and tours of Gwaii Haanas and of Moresby Island are now limited by the Kwuna schedule. According to MIEDS, calls from local business and individuals to revert the schedule to what it was before April 2013, have gone unanswered.