A long time promoter of Prince Rupert tourism is gaining yet another accolade, as Walter Smith makes the trip to Ottawa this weekend for enshrinement in the Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame.
He will be awarded an award for a lifetime of achievement in the tourism field, covering a long and varied career of keeping Prince Rupert’s profile high in the tourism industry.
The Daily News featured his achievements in Tuesday’s paper.
National award for long-time Rupert booster
By Carla Wintersgill
The Daily News
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Pages one and three
After 72 years of tirelessly promoting Prince Rupert tourism, a local man is being inducted into the Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame.
Walter Smith heads to Ottawa on Sunday to receive his award for a lifetime of achievement in the tourism field.
"It's quite a shock actually," said Smith. "I never expected to be rewarded for any of this. I just did it because I enjoyed it."
Smith, 93, was born and raised in Prince Rupert.
He has been involved with the tourism industry since 1936 when he founded the Prince Rupert Visitors' Bureau to greet ships on their way to Alaska.
"He has had an extraordinary amount to do with promoting the North," said Bruce Wishart, manager of Tourism Prince Rupert.
Last October, Wishart’s organization created the Walter Smith Visionary Award to be presented annually by the Northern British Columbia Tourism Association to a pioneer of Northern tourism.
Smith was the first recipient of the eponymous award.
Throughout his extensive career, Smith has been involved with many of the significant changes to tourism in Prince Rupert.
“He was there for the creation of Beautiful British Columbia magazine, which did an incredible amount for tourism,” said Wishart about Smith. “He was there for the founding of B. C. Ferries and he organized the inaugural voyage of the Queen of Prince Rupert. He organized welcoming ceremonies when the Alaska State Ferry came into Rupert. He was instrumental in having the highway paved between Prince Rupert and Prince George.”
Smith was one of the original members of a committee that later became Tourism British Columbia. He was assigned to represent ‘Section G’, which was Northern B. C. from the Alberta border to the Queen Charlotte Islands.
Smith remembers meeting Ken Kierman, the minister of recreation and conservation, who told the committee that tourism was worth $300 million to B.C. and its job was to get it up to $500 million.
“I turned to the guy next to me and said, ‘he’s crazy. He’s talking $200 million like it’s 50 cents,” said Smith.
“Well, we got it up to $500 million and today it’s worth $13 billion.”
Despite retiring in 1974, Smith still stays active in Prince Rupert tourism.
He is a proud cruise ship ambassador and enthusiastically greets the passengers who come into town.
“You meet an awful lot of people. That’s what I like about it,” said Smith. “I like talking to people and getting them interested in my hometown.”
An avid traveler, Smith has been all over the world and promotes Prince Rupert wherever he goes.
“It’s my hometown and I have visions for it,” he said. “Look around. There’s no other place like it.”