Op­por­tu­ni­ties to be had

Lat­est tourism ses­sion touched on suc­cesses, needs and po­ten­tial of Bay of Is­lands

The Western Star - - FRONT PAGE - BY GARY KEAN gary.kean@thewest­ern­star.com Twit­ter: WS_GaryKean

Around 30 peo­ple con­nected with the tourism sec­tor in the Bay of Is­lands showed up for an op­por­tu­ni­ties ses­sion in Cor­ner Brook Wed­nes­day.

Around 30 peo­ple con­nected with the tourism sec­tor in the Bay of Is­lands showed up for an op­por­tu­ni­ties ses­sion in Cor­ner Brook Wed­nes­day.

The ses­sion was the fourth such event Go Western New­found­land, the re­gion’s des­ti­na­tion man­age­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion, has hosted through­out the west coast.

The pur­pose of the ses­sions is for tourism op­er­a­tors and oth­ers in­volved in the in­dus­try — in­clud­ing govern­ment agen­cies, fund­ing part­ners and mar­ket­ing ex­perts — to get to know one another and dis­cuss ways in which they can help grow the sec­tor.

The next ses­sion is sched­uled for Deer Lake to­day.

Ses­sions are also be­ing planned for Stephenville and Port aux Basques for the fall, but no dates have been set yet.

Here is a lit­tle of what some of the at­ten­dees at the Cor­ner Brook ses­sion had to say about their en­ter­prise and the in­dus­try in gen­eral.

Alan Shep­pard, owner of Capt. Cook Cot­tages and B and B in Lark Har­bour ex­pressed some con­cerns about in­fra­struc­ture needs on the south shore of the Bay of Is­lands, in­clud­ing fix­ing the high­way dam­aged by a ma­jor rain­storm in Jan­uary and the need for more public wash­room fa­cil­i­ties at the var­i­ous hik­ing trail ar­eas.

“That’s a big thing in our area,” he said. “We have good wash­rooms in all our cab­ins, but for the peo­ple who are just trav­el­ling our roads (and who) we never see … that’ a big prob­lem we have.”

Mark Lamswood, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Go Western, said it is cru­cial for tourism op­er­a­tors and folks offering ac­com­mo­da­tions to be prop­erly li­censed and ac­cred­ited so they can be rec­om­mended by tourism mar­ket­ing en­ti­ties.

“When we’re deal­ing with peo­ple and are at ap­point­ments look­ing the travel trade in the eye, we are not go­ing to rec­om­mend any­body we are not com­fort­able with,” said Lamswood. “I can guar­an­tee you, that in­dus­try part­ners and play­ers that are re­ally keen and know the dif­fer­ence, they’re not go­ing to want to part­ner with you ei­ther, un­til you are mar­ket-ready and travel trade-ready.”

Pho­tog­ra­pher Wendy Nu­tall, who sells her im­ages for tourism mar­ket­ing pur­poses, said it is im­por­tant for tour op­er­a­tors to get pro­mo­tional ma­te­rial to those who stay at the bed and break­fasts, ho­tels, motes and RV parks.

“If you’re on the is­land for more than one day, you’re go­ing to sleep some­where,” she said of the ra­tio­nale for do­ing so.

Eric Bour­geois is a part­ner in Ever­out­door Ad­ven­tures, which hopes to start offering guided tour pack­ages in the Bay of Is­lands area this sum­mer. He said ar­eas such as the Ser­pen­tine River Val­ley, which he sug­gested is even more in­ter­est­ing than Gros Morne, are hid­den gems just wait­ing to be ex­plored by tourists.

“It’s a lit­tle off the beaten path, which I like” he said of the Ser­pen­tine area. “It’s a lit­tle harder to get to, which makes it a lit­tle more in­ter­est­ing … If you have not been there, go there.”

Alan Shep­pard was happy to hear about the plans Ever­out­door Ad­ven­tures has be­cause he would like to di­rect his guests to do some of the things Ever­out­door is plan­ning to do.

“To hear what you and your part­ners are go­ing to do is mu­sic to our ears be­cause we have nowhere to send them,” Shep­pard told Bour­geois. “How many peo­ple want to go sea kayak­ing? How many want to go sead­oo­ing? How many want to go (on a back­coun­try ad­ven­ture)? So many peo­ple want to do this stuff and I’m so glad you’re go­ing to do it.”

Melissa Young of Rugged Edge said her com­pany’s sales of snow­mo­biles and ATVs and other gear was down a lit­tle this year, but the guided tours side of the busi­ness was great.

“The one bright light for this year was tourism for us be­cause it just con­tin­ues to build,” she said. “It’s a pos­i­tive area we’re all sort of build­ing on and it’s just the tip of the ice­berg.”

Richard Wells, sales and mar­ket­ing man­ager at Mar­ble Moun­tain, said the fa­cil­ity is still work­ing on its plan to be de­vel­oped into a four-sea­son re­sort.

“It’s no se­cret we need to de­velop a four-sea­son op­er­a­tion at Mar­ble Moun­tain and I can as­sure you that its com­ing,” he said. “The pri­vate sec­tor will be in­volved and, at that point, there is go­ing to be a lot of base area in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­oped. So, ex­cit­ing times are cer­tainly com­ing for Mar­ble Moun­tain.’

GARY KEAN/ THE WESTERN STAR

Eric Bour­geois, a part­ner in Ever­out­door Ad­ven­tures, dis­cusses plans for the busi­ness set to open in Benoit’s Cove in the town of Hum­ber Arm South this sum­mer dur­ing a tourism op­por­tu­ni­ties ses­sion held in Cor­ner Brook Wed­nes­day.

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