Coastal communities confused in Facebook promotion

Brodie Thomas
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A Facebook post by the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation caught the attention of many on the southwest coast last week.

Rose Blanche screenshot

The Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism Facebook account posted a promotional video of the Rose Blanche Lighthouse last Monday afternoon.

In commenting on the video, the department incorrectly stated that the lighthouse stands at the site of the wreck of the Despatch, whose passengers were famously rescued by the Harvey family of Isle aux Morts.

The comment attributed the rescue to Ann Harvey and her dog Hairyman, neglecting to mention her father or brother who also took part in the rescue.

The comment also misspelled Rose Blanche, leaving the final "e" out of the name.

A spokesperson from the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation acknowledged the mistake to The Gulf News and said it would not be repeated. The spokesperson also said it would be corrected but could not elaborate on how that correction would be made.

The confusion of the two stories troubled Blanford Billard, Chair of the Isle aux Morts Heritage Society.

For years, Isle aux Morts has been trying to build a tourism industry around the Harvey Rescue story.

"It has to be confusing to the tourists," said Billard.

He said this is not the first time the two sites, which are 20 kilometres apart by road, have been confused. Billard saw a similar confusion in the 2011 "Explore Summer" section of the Newfoundland Herald.

Billard said the Western Destination Marketing Organization has also produced promotional videos which show large Newfoundland Dogs on the trail to the Rose Blanche Lighthouse.

He said that is misleading because it is an attraction that is sometimes offered on the Harvey Trail, in Isle aux Morts.

Billard thinks the entire southwest coast needs to work together to market itself as a destination where visitors can spend a day or more exploring attractions. He just doesn't think those attractions need to be bundled together incorrectly.

"I think we're doing injustice to our stories," he said. "We've got lovely stories to share on this coast. But you don't put Minnie White and Lockie MacDougall together in the same story."

Madonna Lawrence, manager of the Rose Blanche Lighthouse, shares Billard's concerns about confusing visitors.

"I'm sure with all the web designers they have, it would take much to go in and delete that," she said.

As of press time, the comment remained on the tourism sites Facebook page. It had collected 328 "likes," 167 "shares," and 25 comments.

Burgeo-La Poile MHA Andrew Parsons said the spelling error and confusion about the two stories was shameful.

"We rely on this department to communicate what we offer to the world, and they can't get the story straight," he said.

Parsons said volunteers on the southwest coast have shouldered most of the load when it comes to promoting this corner of the province.

He believes with Marine Atlantic's main arrival and departure point in this area, the coast still has much to offer, and has the potential for a larger tourism industry.

Organizations: Department of Tourism, The Gulf News, Western Destination Marketing Organization Marine Atlantic

Geographic location: Rose Blanche, Isle aux Morts, Newfoundland Dogs Burgeo

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