Ar­rival of ice­bergs cre­ates tourism op­ti­mism on North­ern Penin­sula

The Western Star - - LIFE - STEPHEN ROBERTS THE NORTH­ERN PEN [email protected]­ern­pen.ca

ST. AN­THONY, N.L. — It ap­pears a strong sea­son lies ahead for ice­berg tour op­er­a­tors on the Great North­ern Penin­sula.

Many bergs have al­ready started ap­pear­ing near St. An­thony — drift­ing along the prov­ince’s North East Coast on the Labrador Cur­rent.

It’s a welcome sight for local tourism busi­nesses and tour boat op­er­a­tors as they pre­pare for the start of the sea­son in May and June.

Paul Al­cock, of North­land Dis­cov­ery Tours, told The North­ern Pen he re­cently counted about 20 ice­bergs off of Fish­ing Point Park, the prime area to spot ice­bergs in St. An­thony.

En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change Canada is track­ing more than 1,200 ice­bergs from about as far north as Goose Bay to near 40.5N de­grees south of New­found­land.

St. An­thony op­er­a­tors say that’s not an un­usual num­ber of ice­bergs so far this year.

Al­cock, who has run his op­er­a­tion for 22 years, says the bergs typ­i­cally start show­ing up in these num­bers around the end of April and early May.

He adds, it could have potentiall­y spelled bad news for the St. An­thony area if the ice­bergs had come early. Al­cock says it’s pos­si­ble they would pass through be­fore the tourist sea­son starts.

In­stead, they’re sim­ply show­ing up right on time.

“To see them now, that’s what we want to see,” he said. “Because a lot of those ice­bergs are go­ing to ground in this area and they could be here for months be­fore they break up and melt. The tim­ing is good.”

Al­cock projects an “on par” or “above av­er­age” sea­son for tourism op­er­a­tors.

“If we could get 300 to 500 of those (bergs) to come to the shores, that would mean a good year,” he said.

He’s al­ready get­ting lots of in­quiries from tourists in­ter­ested in book­ing a tour.

“We’re ex­pect­ing to have a good year,” he said.

Keith Pil­grim of St. An­thony Bight is new to the tour business. He’s been run­ning Ice­berg Al­ley Boat Tours for the past two years.

He doesn’t think these ice­bergs will stick around but hopes more will con­tinue to drift in from the north, into early summer.

“Any­thing that comes along got to come around this (area),” he told The North­ern Pen. “This is the best place for ice­bergs.”

Pil­grim also runs a bed and break­fast, Yvonne’s Cot­tages, with his wife in St. An­thony Bight.

He says they’re get­ting more book­ings ear­lier and later in the summer tourist sea­son. Be­fore, he says, most tourists would arrive in July and Au­gust. Now they’re start­ing to see more vis­i­tors in June and Septem­ber.

“Peo­ple are com­ing a bit ear­lier and stay­ing a bit longer,” he said.

Hav­ing more ice­bergs around for the first cou­ple months of the sea­son should help at­tract more.

Both Al­cock and Pil­grim rec­og­nize there are vari­ables at play that makes it hard to pre­dict just how many ice­bergs will drift past the area this summer.

Wind is one of the ma­jor fac­tors.

West­erly winds could push ice­bergs away from the Great North­ern Penin­sula.

Fur­ther­more, if there’s bad weather, tour op­er­a­tors sim­ply can­not make trips to view the bergs.

But, for now, there’s rea­son for op­ti­mism.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF PAUL AL­COCK

A tour boat ap­proaches an ice­berg off the North­ern Penin­sula, New­found­land and Labrador, in 2018.

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