Native tourism in British Columbia is booming. In 2006, the tourist sector earned a total of $20 million; by 2011, total annual income had more than doubled, to $42 million, among 60 businesses. Is there a lesson to be learned for Australian Indigenous tourism promotion here?
British Columbia is known throughout the globe for its diverse sea and wildlife. In the forests, meadows and alpine spaces, the province boasts black and grizzly bears, coyotes, wolves, cougars, marmots and many other animals. Its rivers, lakes and Pacific coastline teem with salmon, seals, Orca whales and more, while B.C.'s skies are home to everything from mighty eagles and hawks, to songbirds and the mysterious raven.
In ancient times, many of these creatures had special cultural and spiritual significance to the province?s Aboriginal peoples, and today that reverence and knowledge is proudly passed down, not only to new generations within First Nations communities, but with visitors, as well.
Mike Child from Sidney Whale Watching in Sidney B.C., takes pride in showing people all the Salish Sea has to offer. In just a 30-minute boat ride, he can have you face to face with a pod of Orcas slicing through the pristine waters, or harbour seals sunning lazily on rocks.
Daniel Billy from Aboriginal Journeys Wildlife Viewing & Adventure Tours in Campbell River B.C. says his people – The Coast Salish, known as The Salmon People – are deeply connected with all B.C.’s wild and marine life, after all, “every animal relied on the salmon.” They both share their ancestral lands and waters – as well as the creatures that dwell therein – so as to pass on the ideals of conservation and preservation that is ingrained in their heritage, and also give visitors an adventure of a lifetime.