A wildlife scene from earlier this month near Parksville that one might encounter from a boat.

Marine tourism gets a web boost

The sector is estimated to generate $200 million/year in B.C.

  • Mar. 31, 2015 6:00 p.m.

As a major marine tourism hub, the Parksville-Qualicum region is about to get a boost to its economy, according to a news release issued by a group that has the backing of the Crown corporation, Destination B.C.

April 15 marks the launch of a website (www.ahoybc.com) devoted to attracting marine tourists to B.C. coastal waters and its communities. According to the release, AHOY BC will lure visitors to British Columbia’s coast with vivid photos, suggested routes, inter-active trip planning and things to do in every coastal community.

Each coastal region will have its own section where visitors can select marinas and communities to visit, find services and learn what each community has to offer.  The AHOY BC brand aims to align with the provincial tourism brand and its “Wild at Heart” brand essence.  Few places on earth can offer an experience of wild, living coastal waters with services and amenities never too far away.

Until now, every travel region in the province had a marketing organization, except the sea.  AHOY BC markets the marine travel region. According to David Mailloux, Chair of B.C. Ocean Boating Tourism Association, “The tourist in a boat has very different needs than the tourist in car. The launch of the AHOY BC website makes British Columbia a world leader.  No other place recognizes the marine tourism market like we do, and no other place can offer our mix of amenities and wild nature.”

The marine tourism sector is a $200 million dollar a year industry. The need to market the Coast as a world-class boating destination has been recognized for many years.  Nearly $25 million has been spent on marina expansions on B.C.’s coast over the past six years.  AHOY BC adds value to this investment by, as Project Manager Michael McLaughlin put it, “putting more boats in berths.”

Destination British Columbia, the Crown Corporation responsible for destination marketing, supported the birth of AHOY BC through the planning and building stages. Additional funds came from Island Coastal Economic Trust, Coast Sustainability Trust and Northern Development Initiatives Trust.

B.C. boaters should be happy about this site, too, according to the release.  The website includes guides on environmental stewardship, safe boating, fishing, B.C. Marine Parks, Aboriginal tourism and has lots of links to things to do.  As Mailloux said, “The site opens up the opportunity to explore new places.  But, the biggest lure will be to people who have never been here.  Wait until the world sees what we have to offer.”

According to Project Manager McLaughlin, “Until now, the marine tourism sector had little opportunity to collaborate in a B.C. coastal brand that markets our super, natural coast as a destination product.  Collaborative marketing will increase appeal and attract more tourists.  Working with the private sector, AHOY BC hopes to expand the season of travel and stimulate more boating in northern and remote regions”.

— Submitted by AHOY BC

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