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Tourism Vancouver enters captivity debate, says Aquarium is top attraction in the city

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – As the public debate over whether to keep whales and dolphins in captivity heats up, Tourism Vancouver is throwing its support behind the Vancouver Aquarium.

“Tourism Vancouver wholeheartedly believes in the aquarium’s mission and long-term plans, which include cetaceans,” says Vice President Walt Judas.

At the second night of a special Vancouver Park Board meeting, Judas read a letter from Tourism Vancouver board chair Bob Lindsay.

“Vancouver Aquarium and Marine Science Centre has been a valued member of tourism Vancouver for some 30 years and is a vital part of our sales and marketing activities. In fact, our meeting planner and tour operator clients view the aquarium as one of the top venues and experiences for their clients and and delegates, respectively. What’s more, aquarium passes are among the top three attractions products sold at Tourism Vancouver’s visitor centre downtown,” he read.

Judas says the Vancouver Aquarium is the largest attraction in Vancouver, annually drawing hundreds of thousands of out-of-town visitors.

“Combined with Stanley Park, the aquarium is one of the reasons visitors decide to spend more time in the city, ultimately benefiting businesses and and the community alike. Vancouver’s ability to sustain a vibrant tourism industry well into the future requires institutions like the aquarium to enhance its offerings and manage its facilities to accommodate growth with a keen eye to benefits to both residents and visitors.”

Judas says Tourism Vancouver actively participated in the Aquarium’s review and public consultation process, made presentations at Park Board meetings, and supported management and staff on various initiatives, including the recent expansion of the facility.

“Aside from the importance of the aquarium as a visitor attraction, Tourism Vancouver supports the centre’s role in the conservation of the aquatic world. From animal rehabilitation and the Ocean Wise sustainable seafood initiative to research and community engagement, the aquarium is essential to a healthy city and planet an contributes significantly to Vancouver’s Greenest City goals.”

Judas says Tourism Vancouver also acknowledges the Aquarium for achieving a “remarkable symbiotic relationship” with Stanley Park.

“The park provides a world class setting that has greatly enhanced the aquarium experience. The park, as a place to experience nature, has also benefited from generations of locals and visitors who have come to the aquarium and discovered a wilderness experience.”

“Based on the information provided as part of the public review process, related discussions and previous approvals by all levels of government for the aquarium’s expansion, we strongly encourage the commissioners of Vancouver’s Board of Parks and Recreation to continue to support the aquarium’s mission, including its display and important conservation and research work with cetaceans.”

After two nights of public debate, which drew dozens on both sides of the issue, the Park Board will reconvene on Thursday to discuss all the input.

A vote on whether to change park by-laws and phase out the Aquarium’s cetacean program isn’t expected until some time in the fall.