BC Ferries has purchased a new vessel.

The 17-year-old ship, currently named the Aqua Spirit, will be offering a new seasonal direct service from Port Hardy to Bella Coola, starting in the summer of 2018.

It will help out Aboriginal tourism and the mid-coast economy.

Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall says the new route is a link between the Island and Mainland.

She notes the vessel will undergo some mechanical modifications and other upgrades before starting service for travelers.

Marshall says that while the MV Nimpkish ferry doesn’t offer direct service between the Island and Bella Coola, it will continue it’s route until the new ferry is ready next summer.