Bella Coola Valley Tourism is taking a cautious approach to the 2021 season while remaining hopeful things will return to a modified “normal.”
“We want to make sure everyone is comfortable moving forward and hopefully more residents are vaccinated,” said Bella Coola Valley Tourism President Tom Hermance. “It’s definitely going to be more low-key than usual.”
Hermance said that, at the moment, the organization in planning only to promote to B.C. residents, and that much of what they do will ultimately depend on how the community feels and the public health orders at the time. The Northern Sea Wolf is due to arrive in the middle of June and Hermance said that while they normally lobby for it earlier, the organization was content with that start date for this year.
“If things improve we will definitely lobby for an earlier start to the ferry in 2022,” said Hermance. “But for this year we feel this is the right move and we’re just happy to have the ferry back and running again.”
Hermance said he expects there to be a lot of visitors coming to camp and get outdoors in Bella Coola this summer, and that he is already receiving inquiries. He also said the organization is working more closely with the Nuxalk, in particular culturalist Clyde Tallio, and is exploring the possibility of getting signage for some of the traditional village sites. He also said there is a continued demand for marine tours.
“We have a lot of projects on the go and we also submitted a lot of funding applications we are still waiting to hear back on,” Hermance said. “We are hopeful they are going to come through.”
BCVT submitted proposals for a number of town beautification projects including replacing the broken benches in town with new covered benches, bear proof garbage bins in the townsite, a clean up and pavilion construction at the wharf, and they are also continuing to work on the master plan for the mountain bike trail network that is being developed.
“The completion of the upgrades to the Forest Service Roads [Clayton Falls and Nusatsum] was huge,” he said. “Our trail guide would be nearly obsolete without those roads, so we really needed those roads to be open and accessible; getting that done was just great.”
The organization has plans and the funding to open the visitor information booth seven days a week with COVID safety protocols in place and will be looking to hire two summer students once again.
“It’s so tough to plan so we’re taking it slowly and measurably,” said Hermance. “We are not trying to promote too much but rather to promote responsibly.”