Retirement and the pandemic are forcing two whale-watching companies in Campbell River, British Columbia to change their operations.
Discovery Marine Safaris (DMS), which began operations in 2008, has been purchased by Campbell River Whale Watching, a move that will see all of the company’s assets and employees merge.
“It’s really going to give us year-round job opportunities for more people to pursue careers in tourism, so it’s not just a seasonal job, and we’re definitely seeing that’s a growing trend in tourism,” said Campbell’s Stephen Gabrysh. Whale watching on the river and adventure.
Gabrysh says 10 DMS employees will join his company’s 19 employees, who will continue to be based at the Discovery Harbor Marina.
“Discover Marine Safaris has a long history here in Campbell River,” he said.
“They are also one of the companies that have pioneered ethical whale watching, conservation and research contributions. (We also shared those values, so we thought the company merger was a very good opportunity to bring these two sets of values together,” said Gabrych.
DMS was operated by Heike Garton and her husband, who now plan to spend their time motorhome
“What I’m really proud of is that I can definitely say that between 2007 – our first season and now – Campbell River has finally been recognized as the great tourist destination that it is,” Garton said Monday.
Similar to the activities of the whales they were monitoring, Garton notes that the industry has also had its ups and downs.
“As you know, tourism had a slight decline in 2008 and 2009. So after a good year we went straight into the decline, we survived that, and I mean you’re just getting stronger “, she said. “Of course, with the latest events here in 2020, we struggled to get through that.”
Gabrysh predicts a strong season for whale watching operations on the island, thanks in large part to the return of European visitors to the island.
He says the season, which runs from March to October, already has several bookings.
“We always take online bookings throughout the year and European bookings tend to arrive a bit earlier than domestic bookings,” he said.
“We are currently seeing very strong bookings from Europe for late summer, July, August, September.”