More tourists can come to northern Vancouver Island, thanks in part to a loan from Ecotrust Capital to Scott and Nina Bonner, owners of Midnight Sun Adventure Travel. The business loan allowed Scott and Nina to purchase and upgrade Alert Bay Lodge, which provides accommodation for visitors who come to Alert Bay with the popular tour company.
In the last few years, Midnight Sun has been working with its tour operators in Europe to convince them to relocate from the West Coast of the Vancouver Island to Alert Bay.
“It's a bit of a stretch for them,” says Scott, Midnight Sun's managing director. “Tofino and Pacific Rim [National Park] have definite brand power, export-ready adventure products and great scenery. However, there is life north of Campbell River, especially for the tourist looking for something ‘off the beaten path.'”
Victoria-based Midnight Sun anticipates about 30 groups of 12 will stay, shop and explore the area. This number includes tourists from Midnight Sun's newly developed tours of Vancouver Island that the company will sell directly to customers.
“Small groups keep the pressure off and, we believe, are more in keeping with a sustainable approach to developing tourism in small communities,” says Scott.
When asked why he chose Alert Bay over other North Island communities, Scott answers: “Where do I begin? The community has a vibrant First Nations culture, accessible wilderness and export ready products like those offered by Seasmoke Whale Watching. There are no chain hotels or restaurants here—one can walk down Fir Street without being surrounded by other tourists. And all of this is enhanced by a community that truly welcomes tourists. I've been coming to Alert Bay since 2000 and love the place.”