The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture visited the Nass Valley last week to get a glimpse into the Nisga’a Nation’s vision of becoming a tourist destination.
Minister Lisa Beare toured the nation on Sept. 9, along with two associates and a representative from Northern BC Tourism to see what the region has to offer in its multi-year plan to encourage and grow tourism into the area.
“It was all beautiful, everything. From having a chance to tour the government buildings and actually spend time with the nation to the world-class museum,” says Beare. “There was so much to see, we were able to have a conversation about arts and culture and what that means to tourism up in the Nass Valley.”
She says this was her time up in the region and thinks this will become a great destination for tourists in the near future.
“Indigenous tourism is a rapidly growing area in tourism here in British Columbia. Visitors from all around the world are looking for that unique, spectacular experience they can’t get anywhere else,” Beare says. “It’s that perfect example of that supernatural beauty that B.C. has to offer.”
This past summer, the Nisga’a Nation tourism board held their first pilot tour in the Nass Valley that highlighted all four villages with visits to local restaurants, stay at lodges and cultural activities. Included stops along the way are scenic nature sites such as the hot springs, the lava beds, waterfalls and lakes.
Tourism representatives and influencers provided feedback on how “tourism ready” each location is, which was then also featured on Destination BC, Indigenous Tourism Canada and throughout different tour operators.
Already, signs indicating points of interest along Nisga’a Highway highlight the “Auto Tour Route.” These spots are designated tourist stops to be included in the itinerary, which would also eventually cater to tour buses in a few years. At the moment, these pull-offs are for self-guided and smaller vehicle tours.
“We’re always looking for partnerships to open up our valley to more tourists,” says Bertram Mercer, manager of economic development of the Nisga’a Lisims Government. “Having the minister here focuses on our development in tourism.”
He says they are working hard to move their tourism vision forward and was happy to introduce the minister to the Nisga’a Nation.
Although the visit was only a day, Mercer says he hopes it gives the province insight into their future plans as they continue to grow their economy and brand that will eventually reach international markets.