Brad Tait, a Tour Operator with Lisims Wilderness Adventures, became interested in the tourism industry when he realized that the forest industry was fading away in the Nass Valley. He started offering guided river and cultural tours and has since added helicopter, kayak and canoe tours, fishing charters, accommodations and eco-tours to his portfolio.
Brad’s educational background includes three years of college, several tourism workshops and conferences, and knowledge gained by being self-employed. He says it is crucial that tour operators know local geography and history. “To become a good tour guide in a First Nations community, your best education will come from talking to your elders and doing your own research on your nation,” he says. If you are not from the First Nations yourself, you should still interview the pioneers in your community, “because they will know a lot more than your local tourism council or association.”
Marketing and timelines are the most important aspects of Brad’s business, while weather and political issues are probably his biggest challenges. Still, he believes that BC and Alaska are hot places for tourism employment. “The career is a healthy one, and the choices are endless,” he says. “More and more First Nations are building cultural centres and museums and hotels, so there are a lot of opportunities that come with the construction of these buildings.”
Brad now plans to offer heli-skiing, and anticipates getting his own helicopter license over the next three years. He also hopes to employ some energetic people who have worked in the tourism industry. “The benefits of this business are tremendous,” he says. “The Nass Valley — for example — is full of life, full of culture and most of all natural beauty. Cultural tourism is the biggest thing since the Klondike Gold Rush. Everyone is cashing in on it.”
If you wish to pursue a career in tourism, Brad recommends finding a mentor, researching your specific area for opportunities, and possibly landing a summer job. Taking short courses, such as first aid or FOODSAFE, and attending a local toastmasters club are all little things that add up and help you land that first job, he says.