Open letter to Premier Christy Clark and Transportation Minister Todd Stone:
Dear Mrs. Clark, Mr. Stone,
The signees of this letter represent the major tour operators in Germany specialized in travel to British Columbia.
To our dismay we have learned that there exist plans to discontinue the BC Ferries service “Discovery Coast Passage” between Bella Coola and Port Hardy. We all still cannot believe that this really is a serious plan of the B.C. Government and at this point we can only urge you to intervene immediately in order to avoid serious and lasting damage to British Columbia tourism from Europe.
Apart from the local problems and grief this would cause for many of our partners in the lodge-, ranch-, hotel- and excursion-business in the Chilcotin and North Vancouver Island regions, the B.C. Government is in danger to virtually destroy one of the most important travel routes for repeat customers – Highway 20, the Chilcotin Highway. By forcing this well performing and promising route into a dead-end situation, B.C. is taking away the major part – if not all – of the route’s attractiveness. British Columbia is in danger to lose one of the most substantial and promising magnets for repeat – and thus lasting – tourism from Europe.
This is our current evaluation of the impending situation combined with our hope that it might be helpful for your own analysis. Regarding your plans and decisions and to avoid misunderstandings: Apart from our view of the local and province-wide impact of such a decision we still respect the legitimate interest of a company and / or its shareholders to terminate a service which appears not profitable. But what we cannot accept – and what is much more dramatic in our case – is the timing that you seem to have in mind for your corresponding plans. Are you aware of the circumstance that all our 2014 travel catalogues have been printed and completely distributed long before we had the chance to learn about this situation? Just imagine what huge investment this alone is reflecting. The Discovery Coast Passage is published all over Germany and Europe – as a stand-alone product as well as (and even more so) as a component in all sorts of self-drive packages. In the public opinion of European travellers the Discovery Coast Passage is happening in 2014! Hundreds of passengers and vehicles are already booked. Bookings for the 2014 season have been accepted for more than 6 months now – just like it has always been the mutually agreed and accepted procedure between BC Ferries and its oversea partners. Even entire tour series with buses and tour-guides and many eagerly awaiting German passengers are booked on this connection!
In other words, what you are threatening us with are significant financial losses (lodges and hotels would need to be cancelled, other transportation means would need to be found – e.g. floatplane – but what happens with the rental vehicle?), since according to European travel right, these costs cannot be charged to the customer – as you will know. Lawsuits would become inevitable. Reservation departments would be blocked away to handle the mess of rebooking, compensation and legal communication in a time where they should do nothing else but receive and proceed travel bookings to British Columbia. Thus, the total impact for us and for tourism in British Columbia is not even foreseeable at this point.
So, may we raise the question why you seem to consider turning your back on all your oversea partners – partners who have been loyal and reliable to BC Ferries and B.C. Tourism for the past decades? Would it not be a fair and normal procedure to give your partners at least a one-season-notice in order to allow us to adapt to the new situation, to rework and change itineraries and, ultimately, to avoid printing hundreds of pages with wrong contents and thus producing a significant image damage to the general perception of B.C. Tourism’s reliability?
At this point we can only hope that it is not too late to minimize or reduce the damage. If it is too late may we kindly inquire as to your compensation plans, assuming that you would not leave this financial damage on our shoulders alone.
Many thanks for your attention and your quick response.
Tilo Krause-Dünow, Managing Director,
Director, DER Touristik Frankfurt;
Mike Lehmann, Director, Meier’s Weltreisen, DER Touristik Frankfurt;
Michael Merkentrup, Managing Director, CRD Canada Reisedienst;
Heike Pabst, Group Destination Director North America, FTI Touristik;
Andreas Neumann, Managing Director, Explorer Fernreisen