E Mountain Bikes: Disruptive innovation or new opportunity? Highlights from the Mountain Bike Tourism Symposium


Watch the whole panel discussion at Ride Guide Live here:
(free registration required: https://www.rideguidelive.com/en/registration)

After you register, go to:


The bi-annual Mountain Bike Tourism Symposium was just held in the incredible mountain resort community of Revelstoke, British Columbia.

The event was organized by Mountain Bike Tourism Association with a focus on stewardship and sustainability:Stewardship is the core theme for this year’s event and emphasizes the importance of taking care of our trails, our businesses, and our industry.  BC is attracting more mtb visitors than ever before to ride the trails we love and we need to ensure that the effort to maintain our trails is adequately supported.  The symposium will highlight many examples of good stewardship and underscore the need for increasing our capacity to ensure a sustainable future.”

Throughout the symposium, the word “controversial” seemed to come up in concert with any mention of eMTBs.  A number of the presentations and panel discussions laid the foundation for the ‘main event’ at the conclusion of the symposium…a round-table on E Mountain Bikes. I had the privilege of facilitating (aka: ‘refereeing’) the discussion. The Panel provided rounded representation from government, trail builders, and the bike industry, including Provincial Trails Specialists Tennessee Trent and Daniel Scott from Recreation Sites and Trails from the Provincial Government, Director of Advocacy, Cooper Quinn of the North Shore Mountain Bike Association, Andreas Hestler (Dre) of the BC Bike Race and Rocky Mountain Bikes, and Bjorn Enga of Kranked Bikes.

Some Highlights from the discussion…

Tennessee: “Our Role is to find balance…for the trails we manage under our mandate (paraphrased).”

Daniel: “Policy will adapt and adjust as things become more relevant. If a person can do one lap on a mountain bike, they can do two or three laps on an eMTB in the same time period.”

Cooper: “Fundamentally, are eMTBs mountain bikes or are they not? Is this the same sport? As you add a motor, it changes that into a different vehicle. Let’s have that discussion…let’s manage them like any other user group.”

Dre: “30-50% of all sales of eMTBs over $4,000 (in Europe) are e-bikes. It doesn’t replace your skillset, you still have to be a good rider to go up technical, to go down technical. Why we are so stuck in subjective opinions is because we don’t have enough information. Hopefully we can get that information collectively and rationally and continue this conversation.”

Bjorn: “The ability for us to loco-mote with super human abilities. It’s disruptive…no doubt about it. We’re not going to solve that debate right now. We’re not going to call it a mountain bike, but it isn’t a motorbike either. How do you hold that down? 20 years ago, mountain bikers were the ones in the cross-hairs…guess whose trails we were shredding?! That’s me age 49 two weeks ago…#$%in Rock Star on my e-bike! I’m not lighting up any old dinosaurs. Is it a bad thing to get way out there…isn’t’ that the name of the game? BC is so perfect for accessing these places. The Fear…The Fear…eMTB is not a dirt bike…it isn’t this. eMTBs solve a fundamental problem…most people can’t ride a bike up a hill. Drink the Kool-Aid…Drink the Kool-Aid! You can set policy, but who’s going to catch you if you can ride a bike like a Demon!? No-one’s going to catch you! Write the policy but think about how it’s going to be enforced. It will be a nightmare. You can’t hold a good shred down.”

The panel discussion was supported by some emotional, but respectful commentary from members of the audience presenting questions, concerns, and positions representing a spectrum of the topic. The most significant achievement of the discussion was hearing the most pressing concerns of riders and trail-builders regarding potential impacts of unmanaged access of eMTBs on the quality of trails, the trails environment, and the rider experience.

Daniel: Can you catch Bjorn? The Hamburgler of the e-bike world. We aren’t the only people using the public lands. It won’t matter if you have a motor hidden in your downtube…if we as a culture are producing damage, they may be coming to us and saying ‘you need to shut this down’.

Cooper: It (the community) self-polices, but you have to have the rules in place first.

I made what I believe to be two important calls to action at the end: 1) We need to continue to engage in conversations about this issue in a productive manner, and 2) We can agree to disagree on some points, however; it will be important to us to identify and agree upon our most important collective values to create a vision which can provide one voice for the mountain biking community on this topic. If we don’t do this as a community, the government may be forced to do this for us…with results we not be able to predict or may be unsatisfactory.

Let’s continue the conversation openly, respectively, and constructively.

Hiking Tourism Master Plan for Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast

Left Coast Insights in partnership with Stantec have utilized an innovative approach to developing  adventure tourism experiences modeling for this new Hiking Tourism Master Plan.

August, 2016

Tourism Vancouver Island is pleased to announce the completion of the Hiking Tourism Master Plan for Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast. As the second phase of the three phase Vancouver Island Trails Strategy initiative, the Master Plan outlines our Region’s path to an Exceptional Hiking Experience Network.

Thanks to the proactive efforts and dedication of community organizations, various levels of government, economic development agencies and others, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast have a multitude of unique and high quality trails that cater to a variety of user preferences and ability levels. Hiking trails have long been recognized as a significant contributor to the quality of life of residents and as major tourism assets. Despite the importance of hiking trails to the Region and the ongoing efforts of trail advocates, the Region has yet to reach its full hiking tourism potential due to a lack of alignment and coordination.

In outlining our path to an Exceptional Hiking Experience Network, the Hiking Tourism Master Plan seeks to elevate the Region’s existing hiking experiences through a coordinated destination management, development and marketing program.  Once complete, the “Exceptional Hiking Experience Network” will support trip planning through an interactive website and it will ensure that trails in the Network offer a consistent and high quality experience. Moreover, best practice guidelines support future trail improvement, management and development initiatives. It is expected that the Exceptional Hiking Experience Network will result in more visits to the Region, extended length of visitor stay, increased visitor spending, increased return visits and increased referrals.

Phase three of this project will focus on implementing the Master Plan’s recommendations and building the Exceptional Hiking Experience Network. Tourism Vancouver Island looks forward to continuing to work in concert with stakeholders to increase the economic and social benefits that flow from tourism to the Region.

Tourism Vancouver Island would like to thank all stakeholders who participated in phase one and two of this initiative; your input was invaluable and the success of this project is a direct consequence of your collective experience, passion and attention to detail.

Phase one and two of the Vancouver Island Trails Strategy was made possible thanks to the financial support of the Island Coastal Economic Trust, the Government of British Columbia, and community and regional partners.

The Hiking Tourism Master Plan can be viewed here:


Destination Management Plan Gives Lethbridge a Tourism Advantage

The Left Coast Insights team had the opportunity to collaborate with Stantec, the Tartan Group, and Twenty31 in the development of this destination management plan for the City of Lethbridge.


By Sam Borsato – @BorsatoSam on Twitter
September 18, 2016

City Council learned about a document that could guide and develop tourism in Lethbridge for the next ten years. The Tourism Strategy Committee and Stantec Consulting presented the final Destination Management Plan at the September 12 Community Issues Committee meeting.

It came together after a 13-month long planning process, and takes a comprehensive look at the city’s target markets, competitive advantages, key tourism experiences and how it will compel target markets to visit. The plan lists strategies in its “The Way Forward” section on how to reach better outcomes in the future.

It was stated that the vision for Lethbridge in ten years time is to be a “premier destination for sport tourism and business event hosting”, with a unified brand consistently being marketed and supported by residents and stakeholders that “recognize the positive economic, social and environmental benefits”.

Councillor Bridget Mearns, who chairs the Tourism Strategy Committee, explained that several stakeholders, including Lethbridge Sport Council, Economic Development Lethbridge, Chinook Country Tourist Association and Lethbridge Lodging Association, also spurred on a movement to manage tourism as a single organization with one mandate.

“The clear message was that we need a single entity supporting and developing tourism in Lethbridge… With a single brand, as well. Having said that, there is great collaboration already between the organizations that were on the committee. It’s that group that came forward to say, ‘Help us develop into a single entity’.”

Mearns added that there are two options for management that council will decided on later. One is to create a stand alone organization within the next three years or sooner, or integrate all stakeholders under the existing Economic Development Lethbridge. While she couldn’t offer a timeline, Mearns says it will be on a Council agenda in the near future.

BC Mid-Coast: Direct ferry to Bella Coola coming as partnership revives Discovery Coast Circle

Left Coast Insights & Wavepoint Consulting produced the “Mid-Coast Ferry Situation and Outlook Report” in 2015 as an integral component of the process towards reinstating ferry service to the region


by Ernest Hall – Coast Mountain News
posted Sep 6, 2016

A first-ever partnership of First Nations, communities, and the tourism industry has led to a long-awaited enhancement of summer ferry service on the BC mid-coast.

Premier Christy Clark announced in Vancouver Tuesday that her government and BC Ferries have committed to a seasonal direct ferry service between Port Hardy and Bella Coola, and a search is underway for an appropriate used vessel to make that happen before the summer tourist season in 2018.  The move will revitalize the marine link in the “Discovery Coast Circle Tour” which enables travel between the north end of Highway 19 on Vancouver Island and the west end of Highway 20 at Bella Coola.

The Premier’s announcement, attended by representatives of the Mid-Coast Working Group, follows numerous meetings between the group and government in response to the elimination of BC Ferries Route 40 nearly three years ago.  The move is in support of Aboriginal tourism and the mid-coast economy.  The announcement credited Aboriginal Tourism British Columbia (AtBC) with the “groundwork” for the decision.  This was “instrumental in developing this workable, sustainable option”.

The Working Group is headed by Co-chairs Pat Corbett, a director of the BC Hotel Association, and Keith Henry, President and CEO of the Aboriginal Tourism of Canada (ATAC), whose involvement provides a national dimension to the work of the group, which, according to Henry is “the largest and most effective Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal partnership I have ever seen in Canada, not just BC.”

“Aboriginal tourism along BC’s coast is yet to realize its full potential,” Henry said, and the announcement “marks an important step in our work to build new experiences and market this incredible destination to the world.”  Henry pointed to Nuxalk projects under way (the motel and restaurant project on the Townsite, and the Copper Sun Gallery and Journeys) as examples of Aboriginal tourism initiatives.  Henry reminded Clark that she had recently stated that the Working Group had been the “game changer” in discussions of mid-coast ferry service.

In making her announcement, Premier Clark attributed the decision to BC’s “strong, diverse, and growing economy” which has enabled the government “to invest in unique tourism opportunities along the mid-coast”.   She said the decision to introduce “the right ferry service, using the right vessel” allows British Columbia to “take advantage of the increasing numbers of international visitors who come here to experience one of the world’s jewels – the Great Bear Rainforest”, the largest piece of intact coastal temperate rainforest in the world, 85% of which was given full protection by the government early this year.  Clark said the new service will be “high end”.

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone, who attended the announcement, said in a prepared statement that the new service “will provide access for visitors to the unique and unparalleled beauty of the Great Bear Rainforest, now protected by the Province, and create additional interest in tourism along the mid-coast and through the Cariboo-Chilcotin for years to come.”

A total of 4.9 million international visitors came to B.C. in 2015, an increase of 7.9% over the previous year.  Aboriginal tourism is one of the fastest-growing sectors, with more than 300 businesses province-wide, but few of them on the Central Coast.

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett, who is responsible for rural development in the Liberal government, and who was instrumental in the formation of the Working Group, noted that the improved ferry service will provide more travel options for visitors and “may also encourage the development of new cultural and eco-tourism options in the region, which will help create jobs and build our economy.”

Also in attendance was Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training.  Bond was instrumental in promoting the Working Group’s vision within government.

Group Co-Chair Pat Corbett, Past Chair of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association (CCCTA), said that association “is proud to align with such a diverse group of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal partners on this journey to build a new vision for the Great Bear Rainforest.”  He said the announcement “reflects the power of partnership, and will lead to job creation and economic development in a vital part of rural British Columbia.”

In addition to AtBC and the Nuxalk (Bella Coola) and Heiltsuk (Bella Bella) First Nations, the Group involves the BC Hotel Association, the Tourism Industry Association of BC as well as regional and local tourism groups, Jonview Canada (Canada’s leading tour operator, which brings billions of dollars’ worth of tourism business into Canada every year), and municipalities and communities along the Circle Tour between Vancouver Island and the Cariboo.

Local participants in the Working Group are Nuxalk Chief Wally Webber, Heiltsuk Chief Marilyn Slett, West Chilcotin Tourism Association President Petrus Rykes, Bella Coola Valley Tourism President Ernest Hall, and local tourism businessmen Leonard Ellis, Beat Steiner, and Craig Widsten.

The 2013 decision to eliminate BC Ferries Route 40, which had operated since 1996, was part of a coast-wide effort to reduce BC Ferries costs.  It involved replacing the summer Bella Coola-Port Hardy direct sailings with a service requiring a transfer at Bella Bella.  It also replaced the 115-car MV Queen of Chilliwack with the 16-car MV Nimpkish, a move that severely choked the marine link in the “Discovery Coast Circle Tour”, resulting in widespread criticism from the tourism industry, affected communities, and international travelers.

While the replacement vessel and its capacity have yet to be determined, discussion is under way to build a vessel with a capacity of about 50 vehicles to replace the Nimpkish, due to retire in 2019.  In announcing this decision, the government pledged to work with BC Ferries and AtBC, and continue in partnership with the Mid-Coast Working Group to determine how best to serve the tourism sector and communities of the mid-coast while ensuring visitors enjoy the comfort and amenities they might expect for this length of voyage.  The local tourism and business community have advocated over the two decades since the Discovery Coast Passage route was first instated for a direct Bella Coola-Port Hardy service involving a suitable vessel scheduled to appeal to international tourists.

Tuesday’s announcement included two other measures to enhance transportation in the region:  Nearly $200,000 in funding to build a terminal building at the Bella Bella airport and the $6.2 million recently spent on paving Highway 20 in the Lower Bella Coola Valley and east of Anahim Lake.



The first Canadian open textbook in the field of Tourism Management has Royal Roads University roots

A recently published text in the BCcampus Open Textbook collection includes chapters written by current and former Royal Roads faculty and students. School of Tourism and Hospitality Management professors Geoffrey Bird, Rebecca Wilson-Mah and Eugene Thomlinson, along with associate faculty member Ray Freeman and graduate student Kelley Glazer contributed chapters to Introduction to Tourism and Hospitality in BC, the first Canadian open textbook in the field of tourism management. Another half dozen former RRU instructors and students contributed chapters or reviewed the text.

Open textbooks are free for student and instructor use and can be modified to suit specific needs. BCcampus embarked on a project to develop and adapt Open Textbooks for BC post-secondary institutions in 2012. Today there are over 130 titles available.

Geoffrey Bird commented that “there is a really strong community in B.C. of educators with a collaborative approach to curriculum development”. An open textbook is an obvious next step. Rebecca Wilson-Mah praised the new text for having a Canadian perspective. She also observed that it included recent developments in the field and would remain current because it used a much more dynamic revision system.

BCcampus is currently accepting proposals for the creation of ancillary materials (PowerPoint sets, quiz banks) for existing open textbooks. Open Education Week is March 7-11 with online workshops about open educational resources and open textbooks. CTET has more information about open textbooks and their integration into specific courses.

Tourism Industry Association of BC signs MOU with Royal Roads University

The Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia (TIABC) is excited to announce a new Memorandum of Understanding with the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management at Royal Roads University (RRU-STHM) to work with mid-career graduate students on research that will help inform and develop the Power of Tourism Story initiative. RRU will also help shape a province-wide tourism crisis plan, as well as conduct in-depth research on tourism-related issues, such as the impacts of climate change and the implications on the BC tourism industry for further policy development and advocacy work in the province.

TIABC logo

Local partnerships look to boost tourism in southern Alberta

Tourism stakeholders in Lethbridge and the surrounding region are investing in a collaborative strategy to align development and marketing efforts and more effectively bridge their partnerships.

Lethbridge Herald: http://lethbridgeherald.com/news/local-news/2016/01/04/local-partnerships-look-to-boost-tourism-in-southern-alberta/

Bridge imageA City of Unique Diversity
Lethbridge, boasting a unique natural landscape of beauty and diversity, is one of the most intriguing tourism destination spots in Alberta. Nestled within a magnificent coulee network, Lethbridge hosts some of the most spectacular attractions and scenery that Alberta has to offer.  Majestic views of the snowcapped foothills frame the iconic Old Chief Mountain as it whispers legends of the early First Nations residents.  Views from the Oldman River escarpment are showcased by the famous High Level Bridge as it emerges from the landscape to cross over the river valley, home to the historic Fort Whoop-Up Trading Post replica, Indian Battle Park, and Helen Schuler Nature Centre. Fields of gold set against a tapestry of silhouetted mining structures speak to a proud heritage of agriculture, irrigation and mining.

Left Coast Insights is pleased to be working in partnership with Stantec, Tartan Group, and Twenty31 on this Destination Management Plan for the City of Lethbridge.

Central Alberta Destination Management Plan Comes Together

Tourism Stakeholders from throughout Central Alberta gathered together on October 1st to review the progress of a new Destination Management Plan for the region. Stantec, in partnership with Left Coast Insights, Royal Roads University, the Tartan Group, and Cloverpoint collaborated to bring their collective depth of experience and expertise together for the development of a cohesive strategy.

This article from the Red Deer Express summarizes the stakeholder engagement session and highlights from the plan…


Ram Falls (image: Ray Freeman)

Ram Falls

LinkBC and BCcampus Launch Open “Intro to Tourism & Hospitality” Text

During the recent Tourism Educator’s Conference, Lauri Aesoph of BCcampus joined Morgan Westcott from LinkBC to launch the first-ever full-length textbook specializing in the province’s tourism and hospitality industry.

The Introduction to Tourism & Hospitality In BC was project managed by LinkBC through funding from the BCcampus Open Textbook initiative. It is available free for use by students and professionals, and for adaptation by any party wishing to create their own customized learning resources about the BC industry.

Once users visit http://opentextbc.ca/introtourism/ they can choose from an online version, two styles of e-book, PDF, native files, or order a printed copy.

Chapters on Services Marketing and Customer Service were co-authored by Ray Freeman, and the chapter titled Back to the Big Picture: Globalization and Trends was co-authored by Eugene Thomlinson.