Could Ziplines Be Metlakatla and Prince Rupert’s Next Big Tourism Experience?

Metlakatla Development Corporation

2012 - Zipline tourism attractions currently operate in over thirty countries, on nearly every populated continent, and in all varieties of climate, terrain and culture. In fact, the zipline industry is one of the fastest growing tourism-related industries in British Columbia and Alaska, with eleven zipline parks being established in the past five years. In Prince Rupert, a zipline park is seen by the Metlakatla as an innovative attraction where they can expand and diversify local tourism offerings with an eco-tour of local old-growth forests and the area's rugged, rainforest landscape while also providing a cultural history of the Tsimshian people.

To capitalize on ziplining as a growing ecotourism sector, Metlakatla Development Corporation has undertaken a comprehensive business case analysis to assess the feasibility of constructing a zipline attraction on Mount Hays in Prince Rupert, similar in approach to successful zip line operations found elsewhere in BC such as West Coast Wild Adventures on Vancouver Island which is a joint venture with the Tla-o-qui-aht Nation. The feasibility study, which was funded in part by Northern Development, has provided Metlakatla with a detailed analysis of the local tourism market in Prince Rupert, environmental and economic factors related to the potential project, projections for tourism in the community and northwest BC, and capital cost analysis plus financial projections of operating a zipline park.

The study also provided recommendations on design concepts for the zipline park in order to differentiate from competition in other areas of BC and Alaska, techniques to manage staffing and management requirements, and potential partnerships to pursue. The Metlakatla Development Corporation is now equipped with the necessary information to move forward with creating a business plan, building partnerships, and raising the capital required to implement this infrastructure project.

Positive Economic Impacts in Prince Rupert

While the business case analysis that was completed under this project demonstrated that a zipline park in Prince Rupert could be economically viable, Metlakatla has put the next steps of development infrastructure on hold until the Prince Rupert Port Authority secures new major cruise lines as clients at the Northland Terminal in Prince Rupert. In prior years and when this feasibility study was undertaken, Norwegian Cruise Lines included Prince Rupert as a port of call on their Alaska cruise itinerary. As this has been discontinued for the current season, the demand for on-shore excursions by cruise passengers has been removed from Prince Rupert's seasonal tourism activity.
When the project is successfully implemented, the zipline park in Prince Rupert is anticipated to create fifty direct jobs within the community, encompassing the construction phase, as well as operating the park (interpretive guides and facility operators). The project is also anticipated to create significant spin-off opportunities in the community related to local transportation and tourism amenities by encouraging visitors to experience the cultural and ecological tour, extending their stay in the community.
The zipline park, when it is developed, would also create a significant amount of cultural and environmental awareness and respect by promoting and encouraging conservation and sustainable development. Metlaktla envisions that this project would provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people, creating meaningful employment opportunities for residents working for locally-owned businesses as well as skills development in the management of a leading-edge ecotourism enterprise.

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