Klahoose looks to revamp tourism after Netherlands trip
Above: Klahoose Chief Kevin Peacey stands with employees Paul Muskee and Aleata Vanstone, who all travelled to the Netherlands for a tourism conference in January. Submitted photo.
After attending a major tourism conference in the Netherlands, Klahoose leaders are inspired to utilize what they’ve learned through the nation’s business.
Four representatives from the Cortes Island-based community attended the Vakantiebeurs fair in the city of Utrecht between January 16 to 19.
The group was representing the tourism company Klahoose Coastal Adventures, which is known for its bear tours through Toba Inlet.
At the conference centre, the group that included Chief Kevin Peacey saw about 25,000 people funnel through each day.
Peacey said Klahoose was the only Canadian Indigenous tourism company to attend the five-day event. The nation chose to go because many of their tourism clients are Dutch.
“It was just a great experience, getting to know their culture and what their needs are when they come into British Columbia,” Peacey said in an interview.
“They’re looking for more than a one-day package. They’re looking for, like, a three-day package that includes culture, which gives us great ideas on what we can do.”
Peacey said ideas that are now brewing for the upcoming tourism season this spring and summer include hiring band members to work as cultural guides.
The nation is also now looking at creating a campsite on Cortes Island and building cabins in Toba Inlet so people can stay longer than just one day.
The bear season is about two and half months, Peacey explained, but the new types of tours could go for about to five months per year.
“This is going to be our first season of on-ground tourism here in the Klahoose village,” he said.
The nation is also going to be operating its tourism company independently, explained Bruno Pereira.
Pereira is the general manager of Klahoose’s company Qathen Xwegus Management Corporation (QXMC), the parent company of Klahoose Coastal Adventures and other band-run businesses.
“The way it’s run right now, we get all our clients through Campbell River … so we have no control on the flow of customers,” he said.
“We want to change that completely.”
Peacey said he wants to see Klahoose stop being the “middle person” when it comes to its own businesses, and for the nation to increase its presence and brand to become a tourism leader in the area.
Work began on that initiative in the last year, when Klahoose hired Pereira. Pereia said his first move in his new role was to bring QXMC, which previously operated at a distance, into the community.
Now, the corporation operates in Klahoose’s administration building, which has allowed members to be more engaged with business.
“One of the biggest things with Klahoose is … to start doing more of the business on our own instead of having to go through people,” Peacey said. “Especially when they’re using our territory.”
More information and updates about the tours can be found at www.klahoosecoastaladventures.com.