Joined: 30 Sep 2010
|Posted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 2:54 pm Post subject: October Newsletter 2010
|OUTFITTER LICENSING COMMISSION
The Minister of the Environment requested his staff to conduct further consulting of outfitters prior to further deliberation on this proposal. A series of 12 provincial meetings were conducted around the province during July. Hats off to all SOA members who attended these meetings. By in large the meetings produced the expected outcome. The vast majority of outfitters support the concept.
As expected, the results were almost a duplicate of those found by Myers, Norris and Penny in the survey they conducted last summer.
The entire concept of Quality Assurance, which is something the Outfitter Licensing Commission would develop for the industry, is being championed by Tourism Saskatchewan. A recent survey being done by Fast Consulting on behalf of Tourism Saskatchewan should not be confused with what the outfitting industry is proposing. It is the mandate of the proposed licensing commission to develop a set of best practises for the industry. These would translate eventually into a Quality Assurance program that would be recognized by Tourism Saskatchewan as any other agency dealing with or promoting outfitting in the province.
The province is not convinced that the three surveys done constitutes adequate consulting. They have asked that the industry is again approached to better create dialogue and further consensus.
This brings up the question of time frames for introductions of new legislation and the 2011, November election. Normally new legislation is not initiated just prior to a provincial election.
This is probably the most important issue facing the outfitting industry today. A look at license sales for the 8 year period from 2001-2008 (this is prior to the 2009-2010 US Recession) indicated a severe drop in non-resident licence sales.
Non-resident fishing licenses were down 43% and non-resident hunting licenses were down 13%. 911 certainly had its influence however, at the same time the number of outfitters who did not honor deposits or full payments was extremely high.
A subjective estimate is 2-3 thousand guests were left stranded and this number could be higher. There are 2-3 thousand people who will never be coming back to Saskatchewan and an untold amount of people who have now heard that Saskatchewan is not legitimately a good place to hunt and fish.
This situation must be addressed. If there is not a political will to proceed with the legislation that will reverse this problem then the industry must create it. This can only be done by individual members contacting their respective provincial M.L.A’s.
The SOA has had meetings with Minister Duncan and will be holding a strategic planning session in October to plan a course of action.
The enclosed letter was sent to Premier Brad Wall. We provide the SOA members with a copy of this to encourage and to provide a format for contact with your local politicians.
Most outfitters are familiar with this internet scam but for those who are not, please note the following scenario.
A potential client contacts an outfitter to purchase a number of hunts/fishing trips. He indicates that he will pay costs by issuing a cheque or providing a credit card number. Included in this amount will be payment for the air transportation portion of the trip. This usually involves 3 or 4 plane tickets from London to Canada.
Because the client’s travel agent has recently moved or their credit card machine is not useable, he asks the outfitter to forward the travel expenses via a wire transfer so that the travel agent will be reimbursed.
Say goodbye to 3-4 thousand dollars if you are taken in.
This same format has been on the go for a number of years. Some outfitters have notified the RCMP but nothing can be done until proof of a crime has been committed. Apparently those taken in by this are often reluctant to admit that they have been duped.
MORITORIUM ON OUTFITTING
The SOA Executive Committee met with Saskatchewan Environment to discuss the lifting of the moratorium on outfitting. The SOA had a number of statements and questions prior to identifying options for lifting the moratorium.
1. New outfitter licensing process – this must be in place before any new allocations are considered.
2. SOA wants confirmation that ME is the only Ministry that allocates fish & wildlife resources.
3. Game bird over-allocations must be dealt with prior to any new allocations being made available.
4. What is available for new angling allocations? What is lands branch process to deal with dispositions in foreclosures/bankruptcy?
5. Is the NAPTA agreement relative to allocation priority?
This moratorium does not affect the sale of part of, or entire existing businesses. This may be done under the existing framework.
2010 will go on record as one of the most serious years for outfitting camps being threatened or destroyed by forest fires. Foster Lake Lodge was 100% destroyed by a fire in late June. Other operations were seriously threatened or lost some buildings including Wollaston Lake Lodge, Davin Lake, Kane Lake, King Lake and several lakes in the Athabasca area.
The SOA has formally called on the province to review its fire suppression policy. The policy presently indicates a limited response in areas north of the Churchill River and no response if fires are outside of a 20 kilometre distance from threatening life or property. Once fires get within this distance they often present more difficulty with suppression because of their opportunity to increase in size.
An analysis should be done on the cost effectiveness of fighting fires vs. those associated with moving entire communities out of the north during threatening conditions.
Since last summer the SOA has been in discussions with the Provincial Dept of Finance on the percentage of a hunting/fishing package that should be identified as accommodations. Presently the department says that 15% of the total package should be considered accommodations and 5% PST should be charged and remitted to the province.
On a $5,000 package, for a 6 day hunt or fishing package this would be calculated as follows:
15% x 5000 = $750
($750 represents the perceived value of the accommodations)
PST would then be 5/100 x 750 = $37.50
The SOA has stated that the accommodation portion of $750 is unreasonable. Pertinent factors include double occupancy, outpost accommodations, etc.
The province assured the SOA after last December’s general meeting that they would study the situation. (The SOA had suggested a 3% figure rather than a 15% figure)
This is still under discussions. Even though the Ministry appears to accept the fact that 15% is too high they are having a difficult time deciding on what a fair number should be.
CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE – CWD UPDATE
A recent survey sent out to Saskatchewan hunters by the Ministry of the Environment is purported to survey hunters on their knowledge of CWD. The end result of this is to assist with the making decisions about managing deer herds with CWD.
Some of the questions asked include;
• “To reduce the spread of CWD to other areas of the province do you believe that it is reasonable to: reduce CWD spread by limiting baiting?”
• “Do you believe baiting should be banned to try and reduce contacts among deer/elk and spread CWD or other infectious diseases?”
• “Do you believe that deer/elk feeding should be banned in all areas of the province to try and reduce contacts among deer/elk and spread of CWD and other infectious diseases?”
The SOA has expressed concern about this survey and its intent. The industry has been active in assisting the creation of the present regulations as they pertain to feeding wildlife.
The attempt to re-open the debate on baiting/feeding of wildlife points to outside influences again obtaining a foot hold in the decision making process of the Ministry.
Of particular concern about this survey is the fact that there is no mention of the work presently being done by the VIDO group at the University of Saskatchewan in developing a vaccine against CWD. This should significantly alter any discussions or considerations on management techniques of deer/elk.
The SOA has worked closely with VIDO and PREVENT (PREVENT being a marketing arm of VIDO). A proto-type vaccine has been developed that will be tested on penned elk/deer over the next two years. The testing on free range animals is planned for year 3 and 4. The SOA is working closely with PREVENT to advance this testing so that it can be done simultaneously with the testing of penned animals.
In this regard PREVENT made a presentation to the Canadian Federation of Outfitter Associations at a meeting in Manitoba in July. Also present at the meeting were representatives from the US state outfitter associations as well as representatives of Safari Club International
To say that news of a potential CWD vaccine was well received is an understatement.
We should expect full support from all of North America outfitting groups for what is being developed at the University of Saskatchewan.
Surely no drastic changes should be made in Saskatchewan to alter baiting/feeding regulations until such time as the picture becomes clearer about the potential of any new vaccine.
OUTFITTER LEGACY AWARD
Tourism Saskatchewan holds an awards ceremony at the Host Saskatchewan Conference each year.
These awards honor the top professionals in the tourism industry in nine or ten different categories.
This is a highly advertised and high profile event that brings deserved recognition to tourism events, people and organizations.
The Saskatchewan Outfitters Association has initiated a new category to be included in this awards gala that would recognize individuals in the outfitting industry.
The potential lists of candidates for this award will be made by the industry members. All outfitters who are members of the Saskatchewan Outfitters Association are eligible to nominate either a business or a person for this award.
A panel of Association members will review the nominations and make a final decision on the most deserving.
The criteria will be as follows:
1. Length of involvement in the industry 25%
2. Involvement in Association affairs 25%
3. The legacy being left to the industry 25%
4. Peer respect 25%
If you would like to nominate a person or a business for this award please fill out the enclosed form, attach supporting documentation and send into the SOA office. Please note that the information you provide will be pertinent to the selection of the person or business recognized. Provide as much information as possible.
Nominations are due at the SOA office no later than January 31, 2011 for the Outfitter Legacy Award to be awarded at the Tourism Awards of Excellence Gala, April 2011