Eco-Tourism Fact Sheet

January 1, 2019

- North Cowichan is unlike most BC municipalities with so much preserved public land, unique opportunity to capitalize on this, tell the story and grow the benefits of a natural forest. As example of public desire and comparison, Cumberland residents (on their own as a non-profit) constantly fundraise to buy private lands for the public  "Cumberland Community Forest". Cumberland community completely transformed from resource based to outdoor based recreational eco-tourism economy

- Outdoor enthusiasts travel world wide to experience our mostly intact forests, not through clearcuts. Our mixed forests of endangered Gary Oaks, threatened Coastal Douglas Firs, unique Arbutus, hemlock, alder and stunning red cedar over rocky bluffs with Salish Sea vistas are so rare.

- Based on staff input, public feedback during recent elections and current council motions to review the Climate Change policy and the Official Community Plan it only makes sense for a new forest management plan to be aligned

- Current residents benefit with better quality of life and new residents moving here because of our natural assets, 2016 CVRD study Eighty-five percent each support the development of strategies for climate adaption strategies and alternative energy, and 82% support developing strategies for pedestrian and cycling infrastructure.

- Ladysmith just released their 2018 Economic Dev report stating hiking & primarily cycling development within the nearby forests as investments are estimated to generate $650,000/yr in economic activity for the town.

- Lake Cowichan just completed $100,000 study with Tourism Vancouver Island and Community Futures Cowichan showing how important the forest assets for trail development are to the towns sustainable future economic health and diversity. This 2018 study through research data stated that on Vancouver Island that for every 1000 trail visitors there is an economic affect of $235,000 and for the region creates 1.6 jobs and an income of $66,000 (indirect&direct)

- Port Renfrew Chamber and supported by BC Chambers see the economic, social, and environmental value as of local forests in tourism resources, wildlife habitat, carbon sinks, clean water sources, and significant importance to local First Nations cultures. Since 2012 and calling themselves the tall tree capital accommodation increased by 75% year over year

- Port Alberni's new mayor Sharie Minions throughout her election campaign stressed on the importance of creating a greater enhanced eco-tourism sector with focus of trails in the communities forest and looking at promoting the forests to help economy with their changing economy for future diversity.

- Efforts of groups like the CTSS are improving asset base of the local trails while gaining massive international exposure of trail systems through digital and print publication, videos and social media reach.  Additionally they lobbied the BC Bike Race organization to be awarded as segment of this famous international race. Based on 2014 study and only looking at the race participants on race day the benefit is over $40,000 economic activity (Event brings over $3.5 million to BC in spending) . That does not include pre race visits by the BCBR group or participants, nor does it include media, spectator and event staff spending during event stop or the expenditures to feed and transport 1000 individuals during the stop.

- Stats show 80,000/yr visitors on Mount Tzouhalem and 35,000 on Maple Mountain, this number is rising faster each month.

- MTB app Trailforks for riders tracking their rides show that only 15% of riders visiting live within 30km radius. They are spending money at local businesses from bike shops to breweries and gas stations to restaurants.

- Over 175 sanction or recognized trails in Cowichan region. Trailforks database shows 112,416 globally recognized trails with Mt Tzouhalems DoubleD ranked #255 in world.

- Squamish study on just Mountain biking showed $10 million per year of economic activity, Kamloops was $3.5 million, study after study says the same result on the rise of eco-tourism.

- average outdoor enthusiast is 25-44 yrs of age and greater income over $80K/yr

- mountain biking travellers typically spend 3-5 days in a spot and spend $60-100 per day per person. For average combining hiking and cycling spending is $37-$100.

- Low Cost investment by a municipality for high returns for eco-tourism. When you compare arena based sports at $149/user or field sports at $18/user to trail users at an average of $0.18 per user the net benefit vs capital outlay is massive.

This article is designed to pose questions and spark debate, not to provide answers. This article is based on online research, talking with experts and visual observation. Please use the online form below if you believe there is more to this story than we are aware of.

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District of North Cowichan, Vancouver Island BC