Amy Thacker

Highway 20 Partnership “Chilcotin Coast Experience” wins Tourism Award

“The Chilcotin Coast Experience" has received the 2016 regional award for “Best Tourism Marketing.”

“The Chilcotin Coast Experience,” a newly formed cooperative involving three Highway 20 tourism businesses, has received the 2016 regional award for “Best Tourism Marketing.”

At its annual Summit and General Meeting in the south Cariboo village of Clinton, the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association, presented the award to Petrus Rykes, co-manager with Tim Noble of Eagle’s Nest Resort at Anahim Lake.

The new cooperative of Eagle’s Nest, the Historic Chilcotin Lodge, and Bella Coola Grizzly Tours involves three resorts located in three completely different landscapes and ecological environments, made all the more surprising because they are so close together.

Chilcotin Lodge is located in the Chilcotin Grasslands area of the east Chilcotin, near Farwell Canyon and the junction of the Fraser and Chilcotin Rivers. Eagle’s Nest Resort is located in the west Chilcotin where the plateau rises to the Coast Mountains, and Bella Coola Grizzly Tours is located at sea level in the breathtaking Bella Coola Valley. From these resorts, visitors can take excursions ranging from desert-like terrain, to glaciers and alpine lakes, and the deep glacial fjords and islands of the Central Coast .

Forming a cooperative to make such experiences possible came about after years of experience dealing with travellers wanting help planning their vacations. “We decided to make it easy for them,” says Tim Noble of Eagle’s Nest Resort. Since last April, the Chilcotin Coast Experience has operated its own website (www.chilcotincoastexperience.com), which links directly to the individual resorts. Noble says that, “staying in each of them provides the ability for travellers to go out and enjoy all the highlights of the Great Bear Rainforest and the Chilcotin Ark. Working together also allows us to actively promote all the great attractions of these regions that are so unique in North America.”

The formation of the cooperative was partly in response to the decline in tourism since the 2014 cancellation of BC Ferries Route 40 and the inadequate replacement with the Connector service between Bella Coola and Port Hardy. “The ferry service decline and resulting difficulties in getting a reservation to sail from Bella Coola made it imperative that we find a way to present Highway 20 as a vacation within itself,” Noble says.

Despite the launch late in the 2016 tourist season, the coop’s website still attracted people to the region who enjoyed not only the three resorts but also took advantage of other tours, dining, rental vehicles, and many other services provided by other operators. “We do not have an exact tally,” Noble says, ”but we can say that we more than recovered our startup costs for the venture, and now look forward to promoting the region to a much wider audience in British Columbia and around the world.”

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