Ecotourism can’t drive the economy

Ecotourism can't drive the economy Reply to Dan Kemble re Suzuki letter: I have no problems answering your letter: First and foremost, I cannot agree with your premise that David Suzuki is just another traveller ... a tourist on the Peel River. He was h

Reply to Dan Kemble re Suzuki letter:

I have no problems answering your letter:

First and foremost, I cannot agree with your premise that David Suzuki is just another traveller … a tourist on the Peel River. He was here representing conservation groups that are fundamentally anti-mining and aligned with eco-tourism/outfitting.

His Peel excursion was more than likely paid for by these organizations. You see there is, at the very least, a perceived conflict of interest here.

And, yes, because of this, his party, likely companioned by members of these conservation-based groups, should be held to the utmost standards, both on the rivers and the transportation carbon footprint to get there.

Second, you seem to qualify your letter by selling the impact from ecotourism/outfitting is so very low, therefore good.

A quick run on the internet shows me at least seven wilderness guided tours in the Peel region, including the one you mentioned in your letter. They will take anywhere from three to 10 clients per trip. None of these state how many trips they would take per year, basically depending on demand.

Today, we could have at least 70 clients, as well as their guides, on one of these pristine rivers (the Wind seems to be the favourite haunt) at any given time, back-to-back canoes, yelling and screaming happiness as they pass through white water and rapids.

And camping wherever they see fit? How pristine is this? Ask the animals if they will go to their rhythmic water habitat?

This is just the number I quickly Googled, so there are likely several more businesses doing similar trips.

This also does not take into account the number of big-game hunters with their outfitters and the tourists who go unguided into this area.

What about the future number of these guided and unguided eco and big game trophy buffs?

It appears you missed the gist of my letter to Suzuki; i.e. why would we Yukoners let these particular sectors, or any sector, dictate their agenda for the future of our Peel?

They are not the saviours of this pristine wilderness, only developers for their own profits and motives.

You rationalize, “foreigners leave trails of money”, giving a sentiment that the Yukon makes big bucks from the tourism sector.

I’m sorry, but the pay for such work will not support a family for a year and, besides, many of these guides are not even Yukoners. When you consider cash going back and forth for services rendered and to pay employees, how much does the Yukon really get out of this?

My inference from this, which you may agree, is the tourism industry alone cannot make the Yukon economy go around.

Unfortunately we need mining to keep our kids here É only we need it executed environmentally soundly, not only with regulatory design, but with proper enforcement mechanisms.

The same principles hold true with the tourism industry. Every ecotour company and outfitter should be required to go in front of the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board proving their footprint is negligible and that they are of social and economic benefit to the Yukon public.

And this must be even more stringent in an area we wish to protect from other sectors. Why should some be allowed to fly, camp, move as they wish, when they advocate mining be curtailed from doing any of the above?

What both of us agree on, is that this debate is for us Yukoners.

In the meantime, I suggest these other sectors must be held subject to the same high-quality regulatory processes and enforcement as mining, including the issue of unguided tourists on our rivers, and that each individual foreign tourist must pay dearly for permission to take such excursions into our backcountry, directly to the government of the Yukon.

This goes Yukon-wide, but especially in any protected area or to-be-protected area.

You and I, my friend, are Yukoners and thus should be allowed to move freely, but with a soft step.

Roger Rondeau

Whitehorse