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Malahat Skywalk looks to the future under new leadership

The Malahat Skywalk is looking towards growing its overall experience under new leadership.

Nathan Bird has been brought in as the new General Manager of the attraction as it approaches three years in operation this July. He replaces Ken Bailey, who had been with the attraction since its opening.

Bird was born and raised on the Island and comes to the job with 37 years of experience in tourism. His last seven years were spent leading Eagle Wings Whale Watching in Victoria.

“I was recruited for this job, it’s always kind of flattering when a recruiting agency comes after you and engages you to go for a job when you’re not even looking for one,” he says.

He says he sees endless possibilities for expansion on the landmark’s 170-acre campus. He says he’s been given ‘a blank canvas,’ and that’s partly what brought him to accept the job offer.

“That’s really what drew me in here,” he says. “I came up here for my in-person interview and I was like, ‘What? It’s not just this? We can do so much more.'”

When talking about what he’d like to add, he was quick to speak on improving their food and beverage options, and maybe adding an adventure course of some kind like a zipline.

He says they’ve got a positive relationship with the Malahat Nation, and hopes to expand the Indigenous presence in the attraction.

“One of the major opportunities that I see in the next five to ten years is working more closely with the nation, and other nations than the Malahat Nation, to develop an Indigenous tourism experience – an authentic experience – that will add value to the Skywalk and to the Nations,” he says.

Ultimately, his goal is to make the Skywalk more known to tourists visiting the Island.

“I want us to be more recognized as being a top attraction in the Victoria and Cowichan Valley area. When you come to the Island you go whale watching, you do afternoon tea, and you go to Butchart Gardens […] Why is it that the Malahat Skywalk isn’t one of those things?” he says.

“It actually takes longer to get to Butchart Gardens from the Empress Hotel than it would take you to get to Malahat Skywalk, but for some reason, they have no problem getting people out there.”

To address those accessibility challenges, they’re upping the number of times that their free shuttle runs from downtown Victoria to their spot.

“We’re going to get three of the busses wrapped with our logo and they’re going to be shuttling up here every couple of hours over the summertime,” he says. “It’s a bit of a risk – you’ve got to spend a bit of money to do it – but we’ve engaged with a great local partner, and we’re trying to tear down the barriers to getting people up here.”

To get the Skywalk on the ‘tips of the tongues’ of locals, they’re offering more promos to try and get people in the door and buy yearly passes. Through April 1, they’re offering a year’s pass for the price of a single admission.

To keep people coming back, they’re talking to local partners to bring in some specialty programming. Bird says he was talking earlier in the week with a representative of the Pacific Northwest Raptors about doing some crossover on their site. It’s all a part of their hopes for improving the overall customer experience.

“We’ve got some fantastic team members here,” he says. “The team is really keen on making this an unbelievable attraction and just being positive and engaged. They just want to move forward and do something fun.”

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