(Download the Discovery Coast Tourism EIA study.)
A shortsighted attempt by BC Ferries to save $725,000 has resulted instead in a $3.9 million loss of tourism revenue, according to an economic impact study released Monday, with the losses expected to continue to mount in future years.
The West Chilcotin Tourism Association commissioned the study to determine the economic impact of changes the government made to the Discovery Coast ferry service. The study found huge losses in revenue and taxation, negative visitor impressions, and widespread cancellations of international bookings.
“The government did not undertake a single economic study before making these reckless cuts. Not one,” said Petrus Rykes, Vice-President of the West Chilcotin Tourism Association. “This is the first comprehensive review of the impact these changes have had, and it confirms our worst fears. The government has managed to cost itself money, not save it.”
Among the key findings, the study reported:
• Total same-day ridership between Port Hardy and Bella Coola declined by 46%, from 4,995 passengers to 2,696.
• Gross tourism losses are estimated at $3.9 million, which equates to a gross GDP loss of $1.7 million
• Factoring in indirect and induced economic impacts, the annual gross GDP losses multiplied to $3.3 million
• The direct taxation loss on this revenue amounts to $870,000 per year
• Service reductions resulted in the estimated loss of 37 tourism jobs this year.
• Average visitor satisfaction scored 2.65 out of 5, compared to the BC Ferries average of 4.17 out of 5.
• The Net Promoter Score (NPS) for the MV Nimpkish was -34. NPS measures how likely customers are to promote the business to others, where the average for healthy businesses is +24. Businesses that score below +5 are considered to be facing severe market share challenges.
• An estimated 41% of the region’s businesses lost most or all of their tour & wholesaler bookings.
• 19% of businesses indicated foreclosure is a near-term possibility due to inadequate regional ferry service
“Transportation Minister Todd Stone gutted tourism in this region with these cuts, and the bleeding is going to continue for years if it’s not stopped,” said Rykes. “There are phenomenal growth opportunities for tourism here, if the government would only stop being hostile to its own best interests and the best interests of the region.”
Download the Discovery Coast Tourism EIA study.