WTA News and Events

News and Updates


Latest update from the WTA 2015-16 Annual General meeting held at Royal Roads University on November 23 ,2016. A new board has been elected and new membership fees announced. Please view the report here.

According to a recent government report, the tourism sector in British Columbia is growing faster than all other sectors. The report indicates that, "Tourism contributed $7.1 billion in GDP in 2014 to the provincial economy, for 4.5% growth over 2013. Tourism GDP grew more rapidly than that of the whole B.C. economy, which grew 2.8% in 2014." You can read more about this report HERE .
Further to this growth, the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training recently reported a 7.9% increase in international visitors to British Columbia over 2015. According to the Ministry, "The tourism industry is helping fuel the provincial economy, which is expected to lead the country in economic growth in 2016 and 2017. Tourism supports approximately 19,200 businesses and 127,500 employees in British Columbia....As a key sector in the BC Jobs Plan, tourism is a key economic driver in the province. British Columbia’s tourism sector is strong and growing amidst fierce global competition for tourists. In 2014, the tourism industry generated $14.6 billion in revenue with a direct contribution to B.C.’s gross domestic product of $7.1 billion."


Results of a recent survey conducted by the Union of BC Municipalities confirm that "communities need to be consulted and engaged in forest policy decision-making. A lack of community engagement and consultation has led to varied and significant consequences." Read the full UBCM press release about the survey findings.

More detailed results of the survey can be found in the UBCM report - Forest Policy Decision-Making: The Case for Greater Community Consultation and Engagement.

UBCM will share the survey results and report with FLNRO and the Minister's Advisory Council on Forests and Range Practices (PAC). The Wilderness Tourism Association of BC is pleased to represent the tourism industry as a member of the PAC and looks forward to strengthened public consultation and engagement in future forestry policy.

As part of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement, a new Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act was introduced March 1st. The Act, if passed, promises innovative forest management based on EBM principles for the area encompassed by the Great Bear Rainforest. You can read the the government press release or learn more about the Great Bear Rainforest Land Use Order here.


The WTABC recently participated in a review of wildlife habitat management in BC conducted by Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Mike Morris. The report developed based on the review can be viewed here . 



In mid August 2015 the Forest Practices Board (FPB) released an anticipated report on FSPs entitled Forest Stewardship Plans: Are They Meeting Expectations?  FSPs are the primary plans governing forest activities on public land and the only operational plan that must be made available for public review and approved by government.  The investigation looked at a sample of 43 forest stewardship plans from all regions of the province, prepared by a variety of tenure holders, from major corporations to small communities and concluded that most of these plans do not meet the public’s needs, are not enforceable by government and provide little in the way of innovative forest management.

The FPB is recommending that government not renew or approve any forest stewardship plans that don’t meet the standards set out in the Forest and Range Practices Act, and that the public consultation process be improved. A copy of the report can be found here.

For more information visit the Forest Practices Board website.



With the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Wilderness Tourism Association of BC (WTABC) and Royal Roads University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (RRU), the two organizations have agreed to collaborate and partner on projects and initiatives.

The stated Mission of each organization makes it clear that a mutually beneficial and natural partnership is well worth exploring as each organization grows. While the WTA exists to ensure the ongoing viability of the nature-based tourism industry through the protection of the wilderness tourism land base, the RRU tourism and hospitality management programs bring together current and future industry leaders in hospitality, tourism, destination and sustainable tourism development. RRU tourism and hospitality management programs seek to work with industry experts and are designed to provide students with the strategic vision and skills to address workplace challenges in tourism industries. 

Collaborative efforts between the WTA and RRU will include hosting province-wide meetings and conferences, coordinating graduate-level consulting, research, internship and professional development opportunities, facilitating special projects and administrative capacity, and developing research funding and scholarship.



As some Stakeholders may be aware, the province is currently receiving public input on proposed land use objectives and the potential for new protected areas (biodiversity, mining and tourism areas (BMTAs) and a conservancy) in the Great Bear Rainforest. The intent of the proposed Great Bear Rainforest land use order and potential protected areas is to meet the goals of reserving 70% of historic old-growth forests (with minor exceptions), while maintaining a viable forest industry in the region.

The Great Bear Rainforest covers 6.4 million hectares on B.C.'s north and central coast. The proposed new land use order addresses First Nations cultural heritage resources, freshwater ecosystems and habitats, landscape and stand level biodiversity and bear habitat. The land use order will replace the 2009 land use order for the Great Bear Rainforest.

Up to eight new BMTAs that collectively cover 295,000 hectares of Crown land next to existing conservancies and other protected areas in the region are also being considered, as well as a Conservancy for King Island. Commercial forestry and hydro-electric power generation linked to the grid are prohibited in BMTAs, however mining and tourism activity is allowed.

Public input is being sought until Aug. 10, 2015.

For more information please visit the government website at: https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/TASB/SLRP/GBR_BMTA_LUOR.html



With its submission of a Letter of Comment to the National Energy Board hearings (view letter here), the WTABC has stated that it does not support the proposed expansion of the Kinder-Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline. "Based on our analysis of this project and the nature and probability of minor and catastrophic oil spills on land or at sea, the WTABC does not support this project as it is presently proposed" said Jim DeHart, President of the WTABC. 

Although the WTABC has identified a number of impacts and risks that would arise from the expansion of the pipeline, most concerning is the increase in crude tanker traffic on the cost. The proposal would result in a tripling of existing pipeline capacity, increasing annual tanker traffic from 60 to 408 vessels navigating BC's pristine coastal waters.

The WTABC's Letter of Comment states that 'we do not support the present project as it is constituted, and believe that the risks to businesses in our sector are immense, with little or no regard being given, to date, to preventing and mitigating these potential risks' "We urge the NEB to consider tourism and recreation values and interests as one of the primary areas of risk related to the project, and develop mandatory mitigation strategies to be put in place in the event that the project is authorized to proceed", says DeHart. The WTABC is scheduled to meet with Kinder Morgan on November 23, 2015 to follow up on our letter of comment submitted in May 2015 and to talk about the project and discuss it’s potential impacts on the tourism industry.

For more information read the full Press Release here or contact Scott Benton, WTABC Executive Director at p. 250-655-4103 or e. Admin@wilderness-tourism.bc.ca



The BC Government's announcement of extended tenure terms for tourism operators is supported by the tourism industry. "We applaud government for the updates to their Adventure Tourism Policy," says Jim DeHart, President of the Wilderness Tourism Association of BC. A copy of the tenure policy updates can be found here.

"This is a good start but we still have a ways to go." said DeHart. "The tourism industry tabled several tenure related issues with government that still need to be addressed to improve business certainty. These are major issues of concern for the industry, and have been raised with several ministers and their staff over the years. Some of these issues have been addressed in the recent Adventure Tourism Policy updates, however, many remain unresolved including: tenure termination provisions, tenure overlaps with other resource sectors, and conflicts with public recreation." For more information read the full Press Release here or contact Scott Benton, WTABC Executive Director at p. 250-655-4103 or e. Admin@wilderness-tourism.bc.ca



We are pleased to announce that just prior to Christmas an amendment to the BC Employment Standards Regulation was passed to exclude Wilderness Guides from the hours of work and overtime provisions in Part 4 of the Employment Standards Act. This new exclusion is effective December 22, 2014. A copy of the approved Order in Council can be found here.

Business owners and guide employees will appreciate the cost and administrative savings this amendment will create. Special thanks go out to the staff of the Labour Policy and Legislation Division of the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Ministry Responsible for Labour for their efforts in helping us develop this amendment and advancing it for approval. We also applaud government for their foresight in approving this amendment and their understanding that this amendment will greatly help our sector. For more information please contact Scott Benton, WTABC Executive Director at p. 250-655-4103 or e. Admin@wilderness-tourism.bc.ca



The Forest practices Board recently released a report entitled A Decade in Review: Observations on Regulation of Forest and Range Practices in BC.
The report provides observations and ratings for the components of the legislative framework concluding that:

  • Government objectives for forest and range values have not been fully established, and some are unclear.
  • Forest stewardship plans required under FRPA have limited usefulness for either planning or the public engagement they are supposed to encourage.
  • Some forest practice requirements are not clear.
  • Government compliance and enforcement is not as thorough as it once was.
  • Monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of practices could do more to encourage improvement to the regulations and operational performance.

The report also includes advice on what needs to be done to achieve the intent of the legislation and ensure B.C. has sound forest and range practices that warrant public confidence.



Like many stakeholders on the Coast and throughout BC, the BC Government’s decision to reduce BC Ferries service on both minor and major routes is causing great concern in BC’s tourism industry.  These short-sighted cost saving measures will greatly impact coastal tourism operations and the economic vibrancy of those communities that are serviced by BC Ferries

Our main concern is regarding the lack of certainty these plans create and created for the tourism industry.  In many cases 2014 tour packages, that are dependent on BC Ferries, were already sold and tour operators were marketing BC tours for 2015 and beyond when the government decision was made.  With no reasonable transportation/access alternatives, many of the 2014 tours were cancelled causing significant loses in revenues.  In the future, inbound tour operators will stop selling coastal tourism packages due the uncertainty of access, which will have a significant impact to our tourism product and competitive marketing position.  

The BC Government needs to be planning any changes to BC Ferry services years in advance, and in consultation with the tourism industry. Only with this kind of planning can the tourism industry continue to be in a competitive position in the expanding global marketplace, and contribute fully to the province’s future growth.  To see the WTABC press release please click here.

The WTA is also very concerned about the decision to cancel the Discovery Coast ferry route (Route 40).  The discontinuation of this ferry service is nothing short of an economic disaster for the people and businesses of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region (“the CCC Region”), particularly for the people of the Chilcotin Coast.  It will also greatly impact the communities of North Vancouver Island.  It will cause numerous business closures, create widespread unemployment, decimate the tourism industry along Highway 20, lead to many bankruptcies and a collapse in property values, and cause severe economic hardship for many families.



In it's effort to have Canada stand out in the marketplace, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) is building a collection of travel experiences, known as the Canadian Signature Experiences ® (CSE) collection, that is used to showcase to the world what Canada travel is all about. Recently, two new Signature Experiences offered by WTABC stakeholders were added to the collection: West Coast Expeditions' Sea Otter kayak Tour, and Strathcona Park Lodge's Wildlife Tracking the Elk Valley.

These two new Signature Experiences join several other WTABC stakeholders already in this notable group including:

  • Bluewater Adventures: Great Bear Rainforest  
  • Maple Leaf Adventures: Haida Gwaii/Queen Charlotte Islands Tour - with Gwaii Haanas
  • Ecotours - BC: The Bear Whisperer - Grizzlies and Salmon - The Cycle of Life
  • Great Bear Nature Tours: Grizzly Bear Viewing Tours at Great Bear Lodge
  • Knight Inlet Grizzly Tours Ltd: Grizzly Bear Viewing at Knight Inlet Lodge
  • Echo Valley Ranch and Spa: East Meets West at Echo Valley Ranch
  • Tweedsmuir Park Lodge: Bella Coola's Famous Grizzlies
  • Nimmo Bay Resort: Heli-Ventures
  • Siwash Lake Ranch: Siwash Synergy with Horses 
  • Pacific Yellowfin Charters: Luxury Yatch Cruising in British Columbia's Ocean Playground
  • Clayoquot Wilderness Resort: Tent Camp Wilderness Safari
  • Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures: Listening to the Whales - Orca Waters Kayaking
  • Spatsizi Wilderness Vacations: A Fly-in Fishing and Wildlife Encounter
  • Powell River Sea Kayak Ltd.: Snorkel with the Stars  

Using social media, travel media relations and web marketing, CTC's marketing and sales teams will draw on these experiences to capture the attention and imagination of consumers around the world, and to entice them to visit Canada now.  More information can be found in the resources section of the CTC website.

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Events Calendar

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WTA Summit and Annual General Meeting

AGM and Summit will be held in November, 2017. Details to follow this Spring

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