Vancouver Island tourism operators concerned about rising gas prices


The rising price of fuel that saw people gassing up with regular unleaded at $2.10/litre at some Vancouver Island gas stations Thursday could put a huge damper on profits for island tourism operators this summer.

Fishing, dive charters and whale watching excursions are just some trips tourists could find more expensive this summer, if they get to Vancouver Island at all.

“It’s already too high as far as we’re concerned because our business is based on boats and boats that take fuel,” said Earl Lowe who owns Abyssal Dive Charters in Campbell River.

Lowe has been taking divers underwater on the coast for 30 years.

Many of his clients are from Washington State and Alberta and he’s worried the increased costs they’ll have to pay to even get to Campbell River could leave them with less to spend on a diving trip, especially if he has to increase his rates.

“Can the clientele afford to keep coming because we’re not the only thing that has increased for them and we’re discretionary spending?” added Lowe.

“The uncertainty with the fuel prices is really what it is,” said Leigh Nelson, owner of Adventure Quest. “We just don’t know at this point if we’re going to be looking at $3.00 a litre.”

Nelson owns one of about eight whale and bear watching companies in Campbell River. Many others dot the coastline, all of which are hoping to have a make-up season after the pandemic.

“Well we’re not too excited about it. We’ve had two very difficult years and we were getting quite excited for what we thought was going to be a more normal year,” said Nelson.

Around 70 per cent of his clients are normally international, mostly European, but now he’s predicting another domestic travel season and he’s not sure if he’ll have to change his prices.

Fishing charters are another big part of the small business economy on the coast.

Dean Parsonage’s twin 250 horsepower motors on the stern of his Grady White don’t exactly sip fuel. He offers fishing and whale watching charters out of Campbell River.

“We’d hate to be put into the position where we have to shorten our ranges and shorten customer’s experiences based on distances we have to travel,” said Parsonage. “It’s super tricky, you could raise your prices but you have to be careful you don’t price yourself out of business.”

Leigh Nelson hopes the provincial government will provide some kind of relief for tourism operators to get through this period of high gas prices.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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