03/22/2016 17:04 EDT | Updated 03/23/2017 01:12 EDT

Tourism report urges transportation links to Great Bear Rainforest

VICTORIA — First Nations and tourism operators in British Columbia say better access to the Great Bear Rainforest is needed in order for people to enjoy what the province describes as B.C.'s gift to the world.

A report from aboriginals, businesses and communities in the central-coast region has concluded that transportation challenges into area are hurting tourism opportunities at the same time as First nations tourism potential is exploding in other parts of the B.C.

Heiltsuk Nation Councillor Travis Hall says it's cheaper to fly to Hawaii from Vancouver than to the central coast community of Bella Bella, located on the doorstep of the Great Bear Rainforest.

He says the Heiltsuk have plans to develop Great Bear Rainforest tours and First Nations artist shows, but current B.C. Ferries service is limited to Fridays and Saturday only.

The Mid-Coast BC Ferry Working Group recently presented its transportation and tourism development report to B.C.'s transportation and jobs ministers and BC Ferries officials.

High costs and fewer passengers prompted the Transportation Ministry to cut ferry service along the Port Hardy to Bella Coola service, despite concerns from First Nations and tourism operators.

The Canadian Press