The Purpose of this research is to understand the economic impact of tourism on the Islands of Haida Gwaii/Queen Charlotte and how the present conditions shape the standard of living and the quality of life of the Islanders.
A comprehensible account of the tourism sector can be prepared despite the difficulties encountered obtaining the data. Information based on estimates and other subjective ideas such as feelings and emotions were disregarded in this presentation. As a result and to present a realistic up to date analysis of the Islands’ tourism sector factual data alone was selected for evaluation.
The census 2001 shows the Islands of Haida Gwaii/Queen Charlotte with a population of 4,935, a decline of approx.12% from 1996.
The current Labor Force is about 2,770 people or 10% higher than 1981 despite the population decrease.
Major economic sectors are Forestry and the Public Sector accounting for 2/3 of Total Income Tourism is an important private sector component accounting for 13% of Employment.
Tourism and Associated Sectors
period 1995 - 2005
Passengers Data presents saw-like and incoherent numbers. Information is difficult to obtain or is simply not available due to the Privacy Act being applied leaving questions unanswered.
Year 2002 Masset records show Passengers Movements up by respectively 145 -138% for Arrivals/Departures; an increase of 30% for Aircraft Movements with lack of info for year 2001/03/04/05. Passengers/Visitors Data is subjected to the “Privacy Act” Privacy Act Reference/Privacy.
Aircraft Movements slide with Sandspit performance in a 58% decline for the ten year period.
For the period 1995/2005 Passengers Traffic declines 14%, and Vehicle/AEQ numbers fall 8.6%. Did the sinking of the Queen of the North deepen further decline of Passengers Traffic? The facts for 2006/07 will provide the intensity of this impact on the Islands.
Year 2002 BCFerries Vehicle/AEQs data changes from 17,718 to 22,901 for the same period. BCFerries operations Vehicles/AEQ is at 22,901 (+5,183) or a 29.25% difference with previous published Ferry data.
ROUTE 11 PRINCE RUPERT - SKIDEGATE “OPERATIONS SUMMARY”
For its 3 years of Operation Scheduled/Actual Round Trips remain stable at 190/184 or an average of 3 vessels/week/year average.
AEQ (Automobile Equivalent) Capacity Utilization maintains its average of 72%.
Passengers Growth declines by 4.4% while Total Net Route Earnings show notched numbers.
ROUTE 26 SKIDEGATE - ALLIFORD BAY “OPERATIONS SUMMARY”
For its 3 years of Operation Scheduled/Actual Round Trips remain fairly stable at 4,380/4,390 or an average of 84 vessels/week/year average.
AEQ (Automobile Equivalent) Capacity Utilization maintains its 21% low average. AEQ (Automobile Equivalent) Growth declines 10.84%.
Passengers Growth is slightly up by 1.74% while Total Net Route Earnings show disproportionate results to decline to a low -153% in 2006/05.
Overall Airport and Ferry Movements decreased and continue the down trend.
VISITORS INFORMATION CENTRE.
The Visitors Information Centre "VIC" did not reply to the request for Statistical Information. Research and contacts with the Center’s Management by potential travelers to the Islands reveal how the would-be visitor is being discouraged to visit the Islands as the wilderness is ”very thick and impossible. You should know that Gwaii Haanas doesn't have hiking trails, and Hiking is strongly discouraged.”
The “Outdoor skilled licensed Tour guide” is an alien concept and appears not to be part of the Tourism scene of the Islands. The potential visitor receives a redirect to the Sierra Club “bc.sierraclub.ca.”, another National Park or is advised to contact a Tour Operator the Centre advocates.
It goes without saying that objectivity, skilled knowledge and professionalism is put into question.
GWAII HAANAS NATIONAL PARK RESERVE
The GWAII HAANAS USER STATISTICS 2004, Heritage Resource Conservation, Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, March, 2005" and Backcountry Management Approach in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site dated July 25,2004 are the basis of this research.
The records explain the proceedings how the Visitors at registration/upon arrival/during and after a visit to the Gwaii Haanas are required to produce specific data. The holiday traveler is overwhelmed with a multitude of statistical “necessities”.
Among these numerical questions is a request to produce estimates of “seeing and feeling” various aspects of the journey. For Management, this blurry data turns out to be the source to determine how Gwaii Haanas’ strategy and course of action in Tourism are developed; Backcountry Management Plan derives and expands its policies accordingly. Eighty percent of the data put forward in this Users Statistics Report 2004 consists of "Estimated Numbers of Emotions ” the Tourist experiences on his/her holiday in the Gwaii Haanas.
These findings have been disregarded in this presentation reason being it would distort evaluations and genuine data.
The Gwaii Haanas User Statistics 2004 show a total of 2155 Visitors. Eleven percent or 244 Visitors returned their trip logs:
"Independent Visitors”: total 590 registered in 2004; Returning Trip Logs received 102(17%)
“Tour Visitors”: Total 1,532 registered in 2004; Returning Trip Logs received 142 (9%)
Note: Management informs it is not “financially viable” to reward a Gwaii Haanas Logo to the visitor/participant/potentially returning visitor. This reward system for cooperation with statistical data is too expensive. To cut costs the logo reward has been replaced with a raffle.
Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve reports for Year 2004:
“Independent Visitors” decline 37% in 1996 – 1998 to slide further to its lowest level of 590 people: a decline of 40% for the nine year period.
"Multi-Day Tour Visitors" fall of 6% in 1996-1997; fluctuate around the low 900 level to drop to 818 or minus 16.35% for the nine year period reinforcing the down trend in place.
“Day-Tour Visitors” is up 247% for the nine years to a total of 747 persons.
"All Visitors" decrease 16% for 1996/97, to recover in 2004. For Total Period Visitors numbers remain sluggish to trend down.
Tourism Activities decline: Kayaking -36%; Sailing – 40%; Power Boating – 12%; Mother shipping -16%.
The Bed & Breakfast records are fairly new information; 2000/04 prove a steady increase for the five (5) year period showing a total gain of 73.9%.
For the Nine Year Period Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve shows Total User Numbers at 2155 up 0.5% or 10 people more than in 1996 (2145)
The Background Report dated December 2003 Table 39: “Tourism Activities on the Islands in 2003” appears upbeat. Basic facilities seem in place for the Visitor to enjoy his/her holidays. Lists of Tourism Associations work hard, to promote, coordinate and support the economic growth for the sector.
This optimism evaporates quickly when the ten (10) years records are put in perspective.
BC North Coast Tourism information fails to show upbeat reports.
The data for the Queen Charlotte Islands/Haida Gwaii falls short.
The Bed & Breakfast, the Gwaii Haanas Tour Operators Association put the nature of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve in a privileged business position, and in tune with the policies of the Visitors Information Centre indicate unjust competition for the local businesses.
Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and the Visitors Information Centre are Government entities sustained with Taxpayers monies. Questions rise when the Rules and Guidelines for Government Employees and Parks Canada Mission Statement/Code of Ethics are applied. Overall Data for Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and the Visitors Information Centre show deplorable economic conditions and appear dark horses by any business standards.
With current conditions in place the numbers are likely to continue their down trend.
The 1995/2005 reports show Tourism on the Queen Charlotte Islands/Haida Gwaii in a depressive state of affairs, stagnant and visibly declining.
On the Queen Charlotte Islands/Haida Gwaii "tourism is the second most important private sector industry accounting for about 13% of employment and 7% of income while Tourism Income contribution is less due to lower average wages." (
The majority of difficulties describing tourism wages derive from the lack of a standard industrial classification for the jobs as well as a deficiency of skilled and well trained personnel.
In comparison to other industries tourism jobs pay lower average hourly wages due to entry level positions which do not require advanced training or specific skills.
These jobs do provide teenagers with their first on-the-job experience; part-time work is valuable for seniors, students, and parents of school-age children. Tourism has the capability of significant increasing employment during especially during the Summer Vacation months.
Tourism plays an important role in the overall economy; the potential for improvement could increase significantly if the present economic framework were submitted for assessment: Socio-economic problem areas; Government Employment increase versus population decrease; Non-Residents taking advantage of the present state of affairs; The Haida People taking charge of the Islands' economic well-being are just a few of the issues.
A diversity of income sources are essential elements in a healthy economy. To rely on one basic industry component to provide wealth into an economy involves the risk that circumstances may change unexpectedly and decline. Tourism itself should not be the dominant industry, but is an important component of a diverse and healthy economy.
The Haida people are the culture of the Islands in charge with developing and fostering this very important part of the economy. Tourism is an export industry, whose economic significance lies not only in the major contribution to the balance of payments but also in its being a magnet for ever-increasing investments. The Haida Islands have all the ingredients to be a prosperous tourist destination without compromising its fragile ecosystem.