Pemberton sees future in tourism 

Pemberton is launching an ambitious plan to put the community on the map as an outdoor adventure playground for tourists.

Fuelled by a provincial grant under the Gateway Project, the village has put together a comprehensive plan to let the world know that Pemberton is a place worth visiting again and again.

"Like all other small rural communities they need to diversify their economic base in order to survive and it is about sustainability," said Maureen Douglas, Gateway Project manager.

"Tourism is now the leading industry in the province and Pemberton needs to develop its skill base and its product base in order to move forward.

"It has all the core ingredients to make it work. It is a beautiful place, it already has some adventure operators, we have a skilled employment base where almost half the residents are employed in the tourism industry, and a number of them would love the opportunity to live and work in the community they are in."

Pemberton was the last community to receive the $50,000 grant form the provincial government before the Gateway Project was scrapped due to fiscal restraint. The town even received an extra $12,000 especially for First Nations projects.

According to the introduction of the business plan, the project money will provide Pemberton, "with the resources necessary to build the vision and capacity for a successful tourism infrastructure."

Part of the infrastructure will be a concentration on developing Pemberton’s own success as a tourist center rather than as a satellite of Whistler.

"…There are many more operators based out of Whistler who utilize Pemberton’s spectacular backcountry to service their guests, but their operations offer little or no economic benefit to Pemberton," states the introduction to Pemberton’s Gateway Community Project Business Plan.

"These Whistler-based operators bus their clientele into the area, where they participate in the recreation of choice, then are bussed back to Whistler without any direct expenditure in the Pemberton business sector.

"As Pemberton develops a tourism based industry it is essential that operators are Pemberton-based employing Pembertonians thereby creating economic benefit that is rippled through Pemberton."

According to the plan the money will be channeled into a number of initiatives, including the revitalizing of the visitor information centre, a community resources inventory, and the development of a Web site.

The compilation of a resources directory is already underway, said Douglas. It will create a database of all retail businesses, recreation activity operators, hospitality providers, accommodation providers, community service agencies and community resource agencies in a user-friendly format accessible by computer disk or by hard copy.

The hope said Douglas is the information will make business more efficient, help with referrals and increase consumer expenditures in the Pemberton community.

The revitalization of the visitor centre is a long-term project. It is hoped a larger building will be constructed with parking for RVs and campers, a family play area, a dog walking section, and a picnic area.

More visitors stopping will mean more money spent in Pemberton. It will also increase awareness of the activities and accommodation available in the area.

The business plan is available at the Pemberton Public Library and updates on the project will be made available.

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