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Apr 19, 2024

TIABC Voice of Tourism Newsletter – April 26, 2024


Years ago my uncle joined several of his Keremeos neighbours to erect homemade signs that said, “No National Park”. Travelling through the Similkameen Valley last month, I observed that many of the signs are still there. On the surface it seems odd that locals would be against a national reserve since parks are generally a good thing, especially to maintain the ecological integrity of wildlife habitat and plant species.

However, there is always another perspective (i.e. two sides to the story) worth considering. I’m told the signs originally went up because many residents feared the loss of freedom to enjoy the backcountry, not to mention a new layer of costs for services like parking and permits if government establishes and oversees a park. Even ranchers expressed concern about access to valuable grassland, never mind being able to renew grazing tenures within park boundaries.

For more than 25 years, Parks Canada and the Syilx/Okanagan Nation have been determined to establish a park reserve in the South Okanagan-Similkameen but it was only two years ago that plans progressed to the next stage.

I was reminded about the park scheme recently after learning of a similar proposal that involves the establishment of a national marine conservation area reserve (NMCAR) on the Central Coast. Guided by a steering committee that includes Parks Canada, DFO, the province, feds, and six first nations, an assessment is underway to determine the feasibility of establishing a NMCAR to cover an area of approximately 7800 square kilometres for the purpose of rebuilding fish populations and eco-systems, creating greater resilience to climate change, and providing long-term economic stability for coastal communities.

To be sure, the rationale appears sound, especially given that national marine conservation areas work to achieve conservation while allowing ecologically sustainable activities such as First Nation traditional use, scientific research, commercial and recreational fishing, as well as tourism, to occur.

Yet, in spite of the apparent advantages, some tourism operators remain skeptical about the consultation process, decision-making authority, and other factors including permitted activities within the proposed boundary. In a meeting that CCCTA’s Amy Thacker and I attended last week with Parks Canada, several professional colleagues expressed similar sentiments to the national park issue in the South Okanagan regarding licensing, permits, jurisdiction, control, compensation, impact, and the notion of tourism being treated the same as recreation when it comes to usage should the NMCAR on the Central Coast come to fruition.

This week TIABC’s Policy Committee debated its position on the proposed NMCAR and the subsequent advocacy work we need to do on behalf of the Central Coast marine tourism sector to mitigate potential harm to operators.

In our view, establishing new parks and conservation areas are welcome for myriad reasons but not before extensive consultation with all stakeholders, including the tourism sector, so that potential impacts are taken into account and solutions identified to benefit all parties.

If anything, the ‘No National Park’ signs in Keremeos and Cawston prolonged the inevitable but at least local concerns were heard and somewhat addressed. As I continue to travel throughout BC, I’m curious why so many “No Pipeline” signs still dot the countryside considering the $31+ billion project is essentially complete. My guess is that while the signs failed to stop the pipeline, they remain in place to compel folks to consider both sides of this critical issue.

Walt Judas,


Related Posts

TIABC CEO Walt Judas joined Indigenous Tourism BC's Jamie Bourne and TOTA's Robb MacDonald on a panel to discuss sustainability at Tourism Valemount's Celebration of Tourism event over the Victoria Day long weekend. 

Moderated by Valemount Mayor Owen Torgerson, the session also included Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond, Simpcw Chief George Lampreau and Tourism Valemount Executive Director Marcie Down. On Sunday, the group toured popular tourism attractions in the area and also participated in the community's annual Chinook salmon fry release into Swift Creek.
🏒 Even though the Canucks failed to advance past the second round, home playoff games were a good boost for local bars, restaurants, transportation companies and other sectors within Vancouver’s visitor economy.  TIABC CEO Walt Judas was on hand for game 7 against the Oilers along with Air Canada’s Serge Corbeil and Greater Vancouver Board of Trade CEO Bridgitte Anderson.
Five years ago, China was BC's second largest international market.  However, overnight visitation from China was down 64% in 2023 compared with 2019, largely due to the absence of group tour business.  At the Rendez-vous Canada event this week in Edmonton, BC tourism industry leaders met with Minister Counsellor Li Jiangang of the Chinese Embassy (Ottawa) to begin discussions on a path forward to regain approved destination status for group tour business and ultimately see visitors numbers from China return to pre-pandemic levels. 

Pictured L to R - Destination Vancouver's Karen Soyka, TIABC's Walt Judas, Counsellor Li, Indigenous Tourism BC's Paula Amos, Destination BC's Richard Porges.
WORTH (Women of Recreation, Tourism & Hospitality) hosted its first Leadership Summit in downtown Vancouver, attracting some 250 delegates, including TIABC CEO Walt Judas, that attended sessions on industry burnout, dismantling barriers to gender equity, leadership and other topics. Walt had the pleasure of introducing Tourism Minister Lana Popham who acknowledged a number of women leaders who are making a difference in BC's visitor economy.

📸: @visioneventphotography
📬 Postcards from BC!

"Wish you were here" from Beach Tofino, courtesy of Dave Butler, VP/Sustainability CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures. 📸

Would you like your image featured in our weekly Postcards from BC? Contact to share your slice of paradise!
Sustainability and Partnerships Forum 🤝 💚 

Don't miss out on May 18, an engaging lineup featuring a dynamic panel of tourism experts and an insightful presentation on content creation! 

The event will be hosted at the Eagle Room, Best Western Valemount. Doors open at 5 pm, and the festivities will run from 6-9 pm. Enjoy tasty canapés provided by Tourism Valemount and refreshments at a cash bar. 🍽🥂

RSVP by May 14 to secure your spot! 🎟️
call (250) 566-3335 or email