Tourists enjoying a day of tubing down the Cowichan River.

Tourism and Lake Cowichan

The Tourism Industry Association of Canada celebrated tourism from May 14-20: calling on all “tourism champions” to make their voices heard.

The Tourism Industry Association of Canada celebrated tourism from May 14-20, across the country by calling on all “tourism champions” to make their voices heard.

What they are talking about are the cuts made to the Canadian Tourism Commission’s funding, which was announced in the federal budget.

Lake Cowichan businesses may be thinking along the same lines. David Kidd, owner of the Kidds B&B on Point Ideal Drive, says that though he and his wife’s business is a retirement hobby to supplement their pension income, “as a business, it would be challenging.” Kidd says that after the 2010 Olympics, he stopped listing his B&B with Tourism B.C. because cut backs reduced its effectiveness.

Kidd and other B&B owners in Lake Cowichan collaborate on joint advertising to attract visitors. They even meet on each others’ properties so as to have detailed information to promote each others’ businesses.

Insurance expenses also pose an issue when looking at diversification. Kidd and others have tried the idea of renting out inner tubes, kayaks, and bikes, but have found the costs to be too much to justify.

Rita Dustow, president of the Cowichan Lake Chamber of Commerce, says the town suffered a visitor loss of 20-40 per cent last year. She says that many businesses here want and need tourists in the town in order to make up for losses in the slow winter months. “We haven’t lost any businesses because of that, but you never know.”

The chamber is always looking for ways to help businesses do things differently, and Dustow says that most businesses in Lake Cowichan are already doing that. “Most businesses are looking to the future and thinking about getting more people into their stores.”

She feels that the town needs to move on from its logging days and find a new direction, tourism being an option that seems to be occurring naturally.