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Bamfield-area Nation launching tourism fee program for ‘allies’

Another West Coast First Nation is looking at tourism fees as a potential revenue-generator.

Inspired by the Tribal Park Allies Initiative, started by the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in 2018, the Huu-ay-aht First Nation is launching a similar program with the help of funding from the Island Coastal Economic Trust.

The nation is located near Bamfield, which expects increased tourism in coming years since the road was recently improved.

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Similar to the Tofino-area nation, the Huu-ay-aht will seek businesses and organizations to voluntarily register as “Allies” and charge a 1% fee to customers. The fee will go back into the nation’s Guardians program and help mitigate the impacts of tourism.

The fee program is still being developed. The Island Coastal Economic Trust will contribute $45,500 to help the nation set up the project, which has a total estimated cost of $95,500.

In Tofino, the program has generated more than $85,000 per year for the Tla-o-qui-aht since it was started in 2018. So far more than 28 businesses have been certified as Tribal Park Allies.

Funds raised paid the wages of three Junior Guardians throughout the summer and enabled Tla-o-qui-aht to acquire a marine vessel that will allow Guardians to better monitor and maintain remote areas of the coastline.

According to Tourism Tofino, tourism in the region was worth $230 million in direct revenue in 2018. The Nation hopes to eventually be able to generate $2.3 million per year, or 1% the overall value, from the program.

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