10/08/2013 11:25 EDT | Updated 12/08/2013 05:12 EST

Nanaimo hotel deal could revive fast foot ferry service

The City of Nanaimo is hopeful a $50 million proposal for a 21-storey hotel could spark the revival of a high-speed foot passenger ferry service to Vancouver once again.              

The SSS Manhao International Tourism Group plans to use the hotel as a drop-off point for about 70,000 customers a year arriving on package tours from China.

The Mayor of Nanaimo John Ruttan has said the hotel deal hinges on the provision of a new fast ferry service between Vancouver and the hub city.

But the CEO of Nanaimo's Economic Development Corporation Sasha Angus says he's optimistic there will be a new ferry service announced soon, but it's not a deal-breaker for the hotel.           

"I know the Chinese group that the mayor referred to has looked at a host of different logistics as far as getting people to and from the island, and are comfortable with what currently exists," said Angus.

Nevertheless Angus has been working with a group of private investors that's planning a downtown–to-downtown run between Nanaimo and Vancouver.

"I think a new fast ferry service would be a feather in our cap that way to bring more visitors to the community and more people to enjoy what we have to offer from a tourist perspective."

Nanaimo had two private ferry services in the past, but one closed after one year of operation and the other closed a little after one year in business.

Nevertheless, Angus believes this time around, a foot passenger ferry will be economically viable.

 "It's private sector-led and folks that have strong backgrounds in the sector and perhaps have learned from mistakes of the past."