Pemberton Gateway project charting course for future 

Pemberton residents can take part in charting the future of tourism in their community at an open house Feb. 23.

The forum on tourism is the first stage of planning how to organize and fund ideas on boosting Pemberton’s tourism potential.

The village was awarded $80,000 by the provincial government through the now-defunct Gateway Community project last summer.

The project was developed provincially to help communities use tourism to generate sustainable and well paying jobs in traditionally resource-based towns.

High on list of things to be discussed, said Maureen Douglas, co-ordinator of the project, is improving the level of service in the tourism sector.

"One of the things that was really important in other communities was getting the service level up by using things such as "Superhosts" and training people in front-line tourism services," she said.

Another important step will be to get an accurate inventory of all the recreational activities and businesses available through Pemberton.

At the forum locals will get a chance to hear from Dr. Bruce Fraser, the management consultant who initiated and mentored the Gateway concept.

The project has three main objectives:

• To increase the economic contribution to the community and the province earned from ecotourism and adventure travel. That means more jobs in the sector, more new businesses, more money from tourism, and more tax revenue for the government;

• To diversify the local and regional economies;

• To enhance the ecotourism and Adventure travel product profile for the province. That means creating happy customers who tell their friends and come back for more or stay longer.

Participants at the meeting will also get a chance to hear from and talk to the Gateway co-ordinators for Valemount, Kirsten Lenko, and Lake Cowichan, Rene Leger.

Pemberton applied for the Gateway funding last spring after completing a study that detailed the feasibility of developing its tourism industry.

Golden, Burns Lake, Fort Nelson, Wells, Valemount, and Lake Cowichan are the other communities funded by the program. Pemberton was the last community to receive funding.

The Pemberton Area Gateway Committee is made up of representatives from key stakeholder organizations including the Pemberton Chamber of Commerce, the Pemberton Valley Trails Association, the Village of Pemberton, the SLRD, the Mt. Currie Band, the Pemberton Wildlife Association, the Pemberton Snowmobile Club, B.C. Assets and Lands and local recreation operators.

The tourism forum will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 23 at Big Sky Golf and Country Club. Lunch will be served.

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