© Submitted photo
Some of the participants in the Western Destination Marketing Organization session held in Stephenville on Tuesday, April 8, 2014.
For Ruth Forsey-Gale, a plan to enhance the appeal of the western region is a step in the right direction for growing tourism.
A provincial destination development planning process is underway in western Newfoundland. Sessions in Stephenville and Steady Brook were the second and third of six scheduled this week.
Consultant Richard Innes of Brain Trust Marketing and Communications, along with the Western Destination Marketing Organization and key partners, met to discuss the Tourism Destination Visitor Appeal Appraisal process. Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador has taken a lead role in the initiative.
“The destination development sessions create the framework of how we can best identify and build on our strengths and focus on the key experiences that we can offer to the tourist to ensure their expectations are satisfied as we compete in a global market,” said Forsey-Gale, a tourism operator with Pirates Haven in Robinson’s, following the session in Stephenville.
More than 20 people attended the public session. It is the start of the process, so she is eager to learn what the consultant determines will best represent the entire region.
“Adventure tourism is a big part of our Bay St. George area and so is our French and Mi’Kmaq cultures,” she said.
“I think they are both big avenues for tourism.”
Debra Coughlin, a consultant with the Stephenville Cultural Destination Committee, is encouraged the province is recognizing the committee as part of new and emerging tourism products.
Encouraged by the appraisal process, she said the short timeframe for its completion is refreshing.
With its emphasis on promotion through its new ads, she said it is obvious the tourism experience has to match what is being marketed, so quality is important.
“It is going to be a challenge for the province to identify where they are going to have to put their money,” Coughlin said.
“As we know, there are limited funds,” he said.
“They have a tough decision, but I think going around the province and talking to the people about the products that are out there, or are in the process of being developed, is a good process.”