Outgoing BCTV president Tom Hermance and social media director Carsten Ginsburg. (Photo submitted)

Outgoing BCTV president Tom Hermance and social media director Carsten Ginsburg. (Photo submitted)

A changing of the guard occurring at Bella Coola Valley Tourism

‘It looks like tourism is on track to be the most promising season in recent memory”: BCVT president.

Outgoing Bella Coola Valley Tourism (BCVT) president Tom Hermance believes the region will see a rebound with visitors in 2022.

“It looks like tourism is on track to be the most promising season in recent memory,” said Hermance in a phone interview with Coast Mountain News. “We’re getting increasingly more emails from people who’ve been planning a visit for years.”

There is no place like the Central Coast, with its versatile wildlife, hiking trails and views, and people fly from all over the world to visit, he added.

He and Carsten Ginsburg, his partner of 33 years, joined the BCVT in 2014 when the direct route for BC Ferries stopped.

With a background in marketing, he noticed the BCVT website needed to be updated to showcase the incredible scenery of the area.

“I worked very heavily with the website and emails as vice-president up until 2017 when the last president Ernest Hall passed away.”

Describing Hall as ‘brilliant,’ Hermance added Hall left large shoes to fill when he became president.

On March 1, 2022 the board will be hosting a virtual annual general meeting. Anyone wanting to attend is asked to email info@bellacoola.ca for invitations.

Formerly Hermance operated the Float House Inn, which he sold in 2020.

He enjoys tourism and said BCVT has been working on a new tourism guide and trail guide.

“We have some new directors who are taking it in a more current direction, and I am encouraging anyone else who wants to get involved with the board.”

Up until the ferry stopped in 2014, the biggest market was from Germans and other Europeans travelling the popular circle route.

“They tend to be big spenders. They’d buy carved masks, they’d go on tours. They really boosted tourism a lot.”

After the ferry returned in 2018, the following year 2019, was one of the region’s best tourism years, but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“Now we are hearing from people from all over the world looking to do the circle tour.”

Last year the BCVT set up a partnership with the non-profit organization Grizzly Bear Foundation to provide electric fencing at a discounted price, which resulted in almost a dozen sales, and a decrease in the number of human and bear conflicts and the fewest destroyed bears in almost a decade, he said.

Based in Vancouver, Grizzly Bear Foundation supports conservation and preservation of grizzly bears through research and public education.

“They buy the equipment, donate it to us and then we sell it for half the price of retail and then put that money into the project to keep it going for a few years. It does look like we will get some more donations this year,” Hermance said, noting he certainly wants the program to continue.

READ MORE: Electric fence initiative available for residents to discourage bears

Hermance credits the IMAX Film featuring the Great Bear Rainforest for dramatically increasing exposure of the region.

“This is a great time to become involved with tourism.”

The ferry has become more established with its direct day-time service from Port Hardy.

Looking back over his time as president, Hermance was able to secure some money to maintain local forest service roads.

“It’s easy for them to deteriorate. Many of these were built 20, 25 years ago. The logging company will make the roads, but don’t maintain them. Everybody and anybody who can pitch in, it really helps.”

Both tourists and locals enjoy using the forest service roads to access trails, he added.

Ginsburg will be stepping down as well, and Hermance plans to stay on and help the new directors transition any way he can.

The new guide will be published late April, early May with the deadline for submissions March 2.

READ MORE: Tourism cautious, hopeful for 2021 season


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