Tourism and Resort Operators

Matthew Bowes

Image of Matthew BowesMatt graduated from the Master of Environmental Studies in Nature Based Recreation & Tourism (MES) program at Lakehead University in November of 2006. He quickly entered a PhD in Geography at University of Victoria September of 2006 but life is full of surprises. In the spring of 2007, an opportunity became available to purchase the Vancouver Island paddling division of Gabriola Island Cycle & Kayak (GCK), a pioneering adventure outfitter established in 1987 based in the Southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia.

The PhD was put on hold and in the fall of 2008 Matt & partner Jen Smith (a fellow Lakehead University MES and HBOR/BSc graduate) commenced their first year of operation as Gabriola Sea Kayaking (GSK).  "Both Jen & I had both been working with GCK for a number of years in British Columbia and Baja California Sur, Mexico as guides and managers. We have loved the business and the company from day one and have always dreamed of owning our own, so it was a natural transition." Matt taught in the tourism program at Camosun College in Victoria BC, worked as a freelance writer and photographer, private consultant in recreation and tourism planning, and served as the president of the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of British Columbia (SKGABC).

"The MES experience at Lakehead University provided a theoretical and experiential background to my existing skills and abilities. I was truly allowed the freedom and flexibility to blend my passion for the outdoors, the BC Coast, adventure education and paddling with my academic pursuits. The program has enriched my ability to perform in a demanding, challenging and very competitive nature based tourism industry overwhelmed by complexity and externalities. It has provided depth to my decision making, values, teaching, writing, and critical thinking, enhanced by research and the outstanding mentorship and guidance I received from the ORPT faculty and staff. The incredible people, good friends and sense of community within the program top off what I regard as an uncommonly profound learning experience."

Matt & Jen spend their time between their sailboat and jobs in Victoria BC, base of operations and Gabriola Island, and sea kayaking all over the west coast of Vancouver Island during peak season.