When people across the globe imagine Canada, many will picture rich green rainforests and beautiful blue waters – and that’s the backdrop for Breanne Quesnel’s work.
As owner and operator at Spirit of the West Adventures, an ecotourism specialist offering sea-kayaking tours on the West Coast, she’s come to know the expectations of her clientele. “People come here for the wilderness; they come to see whales or bears,” she says. “What many don’t realize is that this biodiversity depends on a functioning ecosystem – and this system is facing all kinds of pressures.”
Tourism brings its own challenges, yet “sustainable or regenerative tourism has significant potential for contributing to – rather than negatively impacting – these environments and species,” says Quesnel. “For the past 100 years, many economic activities in the area included taking things, such as trees, fish and other resources.”
Ecotourism offers an alternative. It “contributes to community and government coffers while, at the same time, enhancing to the overall quality of life for all involved,” she suggests. “We try and give more than we take, and we pay attention to the wishes of communities, especially our Indigenous neighbours.”
As president of the Wilderness Tourism Association of BC, Quesnel works with communities, industry and government to raise the profile of wilderness tourism. “We also support projects like marine protected areas because of their far-reaching impact,” she says. “When we have healthy fish stocks, we get healthy whale and bear populations. And tourism businesses and human systems also get a boost.”
In addition to providing guests with chances to reconnect with each other and with nature, the ultimate goal is to inspire “this aha moment, where they realize how everything is connected – and how all of our actions matter,” says Quesnel. “Hopefully, they will take this back to their every-day lives and make some positive changes so we can build a healthier and more sustainable future together.”
Advertising feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.