Well over 100 outdoor enthusiasts interested in tourism and intrigued about a rumoured new endeavour came together to network and learn more on Feb. 20 at Let's Gather! A Sunshine Coast Tourism Networking Event.
The event, held at the shíshálh Nation longhouse, was put on by Talay-say Tours, the Aboriginal Tourism Association of B.C., shíshálh First Nation and Sunshine Coast Tours.
Guests enjoyed a lunch provided by CasPier Catering before learning about the sacred space, the shíshálh Nation's culture and their history.
Host Candace Campo of Talaysay Tours encouraged tour operators and local entrepreneurs to then share about their businesses before she announced the initiative she'd devised with the assistance of Audry Lochrie of Talking Totem Tours.
Campo noted that over the years, while developing her Aboriginal kayaking tour business, she experienced a willingness to share expertise, gear and even guides within the Sunshine Coast kayaking industry. That willingness to work together has made the industry stronger, she said.
In the spirit of working together Campo then pitched her idea for a new Aboriginal eco-centre tour booking facility on the Coast.
"So when the visitors come to our region, they'll have a few more options. We already have great things going on in the visitor info centres, we have the travel ambassadors on the B.C. Ferries, and we want to be part of that process by being a booking centre," Campo said.
"We're pursuing and going into a partnership to be a booking centre at the Sechelt Info Centre and we're inviting all the tour operators to join us, to make this a reality, because being in this industry for 12 years, I know how hard it is to make a living."
Lochrie explained that the initiative would run under a business model known as a "community contribution company" and that tour operators who want to be involved would have to sign up.
"We will put our profits back into the community to support cultural and environmental growth and awareness. So that if somebody from the Netherlands comes to you, you would actually be able to know something about the Sechelt Band, you would know when tourists could come to the longhouse, you would know to honour the territory," Lochrie said.
"It's going to be a mutual joining and it is also to protect the environment. That's a big thing."
Those involved in the initiative would benefit from shared administrative and marketing costs, Campo said.
"Even though you all have green profiles, nobody knows. It's a big secret. So we're going to promote that," Lochrie noted.
The new tour booking facility is set to launch in May.
"So just get a hold of us, and we'd be happy to showcase you as part of the launch," Lochrie said.
Find out more by contacting Lochrie at 250-444-7077 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Coast Reporter