More people seem to be visiting the islands this year than last year, according to the islands’ three visitor information centres.
Sandspit has the busiest centre, with just under 9,000 people during June and July, an increase of about 1.5 percent over last year, according to manager Carol Wagner. The Sandspit info centre is located in the airport. Some people who come in are en route to a fishing lodge, but they stop in, take a few brochures and hopefully will return for another visit to the islands in the future, says employee Lynn Scott.
“People are really excited by the wilderness. That’s why people come here, whether they’re coming to a lodge, to Gwaii Haanas or touring the islands,” she says.
The Queen Charlotte info centre is helping significantly more people this year, says manager Carolyn Hesseltine. In July 3,882 people visited the info centre compared to 2,598 in July 2002. Numbers are up this year because the centre is promoting itself more, she says.
People are drawn to the islands because they’re not commercial, says Ms Hesseltine. She sees an increase in the amount of road traffic and the number of families who are coming to visit, and she sees people staying for a longer period of time than in the past-drawn to the timeless quality of the islands and the quiet beaches.
In Masset’s information kiosk, about 943 people have stopped in June and July of this year, says Kim Mushynsky at the Masset village office – about the same as last year. This year people are asking a lot of questions about the military presence in Masset. They also want to know about Tow Hill, how to catch crabs and where to find the famous HaidaBucks coffee shop.
Traffic to the islands aboard the Queen of Prince Rupert is the same as last year at about 3,700 passengers from mid-May to the end of June, according to statistics from BC Ferries.
However, in Masset, the airport is significantly busier this year, says village employee Debbie Collison who works at the airport seven days a week during the summer. The airport needs more ramp space, says Ms Collison, to deal with all the planes parking there overnight. The airport has five scheduled flights daily, plus fishing lodge charter flights and many small private planes. The airport is handling about 100 visitors a day.
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