2013 tourist season drawing favourable reviews from government, operators
Tourism Minister Terry French said recently early indications are that visitations to
this province are up slightly this summer and he's predicting 2013 will be another
great year for the industry.
Traffic at provincial parks is up slightly, he noted, though it’s still early to give a
complete picture of how the season panned out.
“The biggest indication is our website visits. Most people now do their trip planning
online and we’ve been up 27 per cent this year over the previous year up to June,"
French said during a recent interview.
While the occupancy rate is up in the majority of places throughout the province, the
minister said there will always be fluctuations in these numbers, for various reasons.
For example, visits to Red Bay have been up about 33 per cent because of the new
UNESCO designation, he explained.
Visitor information centres have also shown an increase in traffic.
When asked if problems with the ferry service cut down on the number of visitors to
the province, French said he’s been told the majority of people who could not get the
ferry in Argentia because it had been pulled to the Port aux Basques run, changed
their travel route to come to the island via Port aux Basques.
“This will probably make it bad for some places like Argentia, but they’re still
coming to the province,” French said.
In 2012, tourism spending reached $1 billion, the highest level ever recorded in the
province. However, in the 2013 budget, government cut its tourism campaign budget
by $4 million.
French said his department continues to find ways to be creative.
The following, meanwhile, is a round-up of comments from a variety of tourism
operators contacted in recent days.
• Kathy Crotty, director of marketing and media relations, Shorefast
Foundation/Fogo Island Inn
The inn opened this past summer, but has attracted people from all over the world,
“People are generally impressed with the property. It’s created quite a buzz not only
on Fogo Island but throughout the province and the country."
The inn has made local news as well as Oprah Winfrey’s “Wow” list.
Winfrey’s magazine and website notes that the list touts “some of the world’s most
awe-inspiring people, innovations and phenomena.”
“When media all over the world carry the message for us, that helps create
awareness of the property and of the island because the inn is a destination within a
destination,” Crotty said.
• David Boyd, Prime Birth Fishing and Heritage Centre and Craft Studio, Twillingate
A commercial fisherman and tour boat caption, Boyd created his business as a
tribute to his fisher forefathers.
He takes visitors on the water to fish for cod, mackerel, squid and lobster.
“I’m into experiential tourism these days. We just went out and hauled my mackerel
net. We’ve got people staying at our vacation home and they’re having fresh
mackerel for their dinner,” Boyd said.
Boyd towed three historic buildings from various fishing communities, as well as a
52-foot Sei whale 25 miles from Fortune Harbour to Twillingate to create an historic
fishing village. An underwater video camera 100 feet from the dock captures live
streaming video of anything that swims past the lens has been a great addition to
“Captain Boyd was a gracious and fun host. We saw beautiful scenery and we caught
lobster in cages,” one tourist wrote on TripAdvisor.com.
Another tourist wrote about an ugly stick demonstration.
“It is a wooden pole with bottle caps nailed to it and a boot at the bottom. It is played
with another ribbed stick with bottle caps. It bounces over the first pole making
noises while you bounce the boot up and down on the floor. Very entertaining,” he
Boyd said he’s been open 19 years, and the number of visitors increase each year.
“We’re absolutely pleased with the way things are going.”
• Bernice Miller, manager, Random Passage film site, Old Bonaventure
Visitation to the site is up from last year, said Miller.
“Right now we’re up a little over 300 people to what we were on this date last year,”
Miller said on Aug. 19.
The site was established to film the CBC miniseries Random Passage based on the
books Random Passage and Waiting for Time by Bernice Morgan.
The site includes houses, church, school, fishing stages and fishing flakes, vegetable
garden and sheep grazing.
Miller said visitors to Joe’s Place — a bar and restaurant built in Trinity Bight for the
film “The Grand Seduction” — is doing marvelous since it opened in late June.
“People can pay an extra fee to visit both Random Passage and Joe’s Place. We’re
already gone over 1,200 visitors (at Joe’s Place),” Miller said.
• Cynthia Randall, manager, Grenfell Historic Properties, St. Anthony
These properties were created to celebrate the legacy of Sir Wilfred Grenfell, a
lengendary medical doctor in the region.
Visitors to the interpretation centre and other tourism-related attractions were up
10-15 per cent in June, likely due to the Iceberg Festival, said Randall.
Randall said there was also a slight increase in numbers in July, and while numbers
for August have yet to be tabulated, she said a visit by a cruise ship increased the
number of visitors for the area.
“It’s been good,” Randall noted.
• Hazel Bishop, executive director, Gander and Area Chamber of Commerce
The Gander Tourist Information Centre falls under the umbrella of the chamber of
Commerce. The centre is open all year.
Bishop said visitors to the centre have been on par with other years, however, she
said during the time that the ferry was taken off the Argentia run and moved to Port
aux Basques more people came to the centre.
“People are stopping here to take a rest during the long drive to or from Port aux
Basques,” Bishop said.
Bishop said the centre sees about 14,000 people annually.
“We let people know all about the festivals that are taking place in the various areas
and there’s no cost for operators across the province to display their brochures with
us,” Bishop said.
• Ron Howell, Carbonear Heritage Society
Howell said he’d like to see more visitors come to the Carbonear/Harbour
Grace/Victoria area of Conception Bay North.
He is encouraging local municipalities to work jointly on a marketing plan to
promote the many attractions and rich history of the area.
“There’s enough between Harbour Grace and Carbonear to keep people here for two
or three days. It’s a shame that more people aren’t coming here. We are some of the
oldest towns in North America and we have so much to offer. But, we’re not
promoting it enough.”
• Lois Dawe, manager, Visitor Information Centre, Bay Roberts
While the number of people coming to the centre has been down slightly over last
year, Dawe said attendance at the various festivals and activities in the region is
“We’ve been doing four (weekly) walking tours this summer and those have been
doing exceptionally well. And our cultural foundation is very active. They have an
event ongoing every Wednesday night, so there’s a lot of interest in our activities,”
• Jane Brewer, communications officer, Parks Canada
Brewer said visitor interests and needs have changed over the years. By reviewing
and renewing Gros Morne’s interpretive offer, she said, the nearly 180,000 people
who visit the national park annually find ways to enjoy and appreciate the World
The park has introduced a variety of new interpretive activities this year such asadventure hikes on the Tablelands and Western Brook Pond.