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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Across the Province

The following article was written by Wallace J. Mclean (WJM) and originally appeared on his site, Labradore.blogspot.com. I felt that it said a great deal about the attitude of the provincial government toward developing and maintaining the Labrador portion of the province. It is definitely worth the read.

Thanks Wallace for permitting me to republish it here.


Across the Province
Sunday, May 07, 2006
By Wallace Mclean

A recent VOCM article reported:

Government has extended the operating season for visitor information centres across the province, in an effort to encourage tourism activity beyond the summer months.

All VIC's will open tomorrow (May 8), which is about two weeks earlier than last year, and many will remain open until the end of October. Tourism Minister Tom Hedderson says VIC's play an integral role in the tourism industry, and are often the first point of contact for visitors to the province.

The story is based on a press release, issued on Friday, in which we are informed:

Government operates seven VICs located strategically throughout the province at major gateways and travel intersections in North Sydney, Port aux Basques, Deer Lake, Notre Dame Junction, Clarenville, Whitbourne and Argentia.

Notice anything?

One of the seven VICs located "strategically throughout the province" is located in North Sydney. North Sydney is on Cape Breton Island, which is, or at least used to be, in Nova Scotia.

None of the seven are located in Labrador, which is, or at least used to be, in the province where Tom Hedderson is a cabinet minister.

By necessary implication, this means that "the province" consists of two major islands, namely Newfoundland and Cape Breton, and, furthermore, that Labrador is not part of the province.

Why are Labrador's major entry points — Labrador West, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and L'Anse au Clair — dependent on community-run facilities, with much shorter seasons and fewer resources than full VICs? And why, for that matter, isn't there a provincial VIC in Blanc Sablon, which is just as much an entry point as North Sydney?

And, given that one of the justifications for the earlier season is that:

...provincial tourism statistics show that visitors are arriving in the province earlier in the year, particularly those wishing to see icebergs.

and that the icebergs show up in Labrador before they do in Newfoundland, why are there no VICs in Labrador?

Isn't Labrador an integral part of the province?

Tom? Danny? Anyone?


Anonymous said...

Great article, Wallace! And a great gesture, Myles. Do I sense a truce? I doubt it.

So yeah....Danny, Tom, why?
Labrador is as scenic a place to visit as Newfoundland.

Patriot said...

I always said, "Politics makes strange bed fellows".

I doubt WJM and I will agree on anything most of the time but in this case I'm behind him 110% (Yes Wallace, I know you cannot actually go beyond 100% but it's just a saying) ;-)

Anonymous said...

It is shocking to me, as a proud Newfoundlander and Labradorean, that the government of Newfoundland and Labrador does not operate a visitor information centre anywhere in Labrador. Also who would have made the error that Cape Breton is part of Newfoundland and Labrador?

I visited southern Labrador last summer and plan to visit Labrador central this summer. Labrador is a beautiful part of our province and it is as deserving of visitor information centres as is the island portion. This must be addressed. This matter needs to be brought to the tourism minister's attention. Matter of fact I will email a copy of this blog to the Minister myself and ask the Minister what he plans to do about this situation.

Wallace and Myles, both of you should inform the Minister of this deficiency, as well.

NL-ExPatriate said...

I too find it hard to believe that I actually agree with WJM about something but in this case I do and I have already made my concerns known to the powers that be. If enough of us make our voices heard one would like to think that some action would be taken.

As for having a VIC at North Sydney I think it is actually a good idea one VIC can service two destinations PAB and Argentia. It also serves an an enticement for people to take the leap of faith and cross the gulf. They might want to place it on the Cabot trail though?

Anonymous said...

I don't know where else to post this so hope you don't mind:

Are you aware that since the failure of Hebron, a significant number of employees and their families have either been moved out of the province or are about to leave? Very, very few are now moving in. What a shame that the St John's economy is losing 40-6- families who have come to raise their kids and who also tend to spend a LOT of money. (Bored housewives you know)
It was projected that in addition to approx. 150 more families moving in, there was to be a MINIMUM of 1500 jobs created around this project.

Mr. Williams has really blown it this time.

Anonymous said...

Sorry that was 40- 60 families above.

Anonymous said...

Since when is WJM in support of token efforts by the government with such limited resources?

Where are the numbers to support a VIC in labrador?

I would support a VIC in Zambia if it was money well spend.

I can't agree with putting a token VIC in labrador when it can't be justified. (No need to play with the numbers, simply, more people would be using the VIC as it is located in NS then if it were moved to Labrador)

Dispite what Labradoreans believe they are hardly the gate way to the province...

If there was only the monies to fund the current number of VIC's you would like to see the VIC moved from NS to labrador?

Wince said...

I think the VIC in North Sydney makes perfect sense. It's a major staging point for people visiting this province. We are an island so if you plan to visit you come by boat or plane. Where do the boats pick up passengers? North Sydney. Why not provide them all the information they need there? That way they can read while they are on the ferry and be better prepared to come her, visit our attractions and spend their money in our shops and restaurants.

As for the ommission of such a VIC in Labrador, where should it be located? I think one should exist there and with the trend towards "adventure tourism" Labrador could make an equally viable destination as the island portion of the province.

Patriot said...

I may have read WJM's commentary wrong but I don't believe he is promoting getting rid of the VIC at Sydney, if he is then I don't agree because it is a good point to familiarize tourists with the province.

Having said that, there should still be VIC(s) in Labrador. The Labrador portion of the province is indeed a beautiful place. A lot of visitors go there for sport fishing, hiking, whale watching, iceberg watching, hunting, etc. It is one of Canada's last unspoiled (or largely unspoiled) wilderness regions and if promoted properly, including the opening of VICs then one can only imagine the increase in tourism to the area. Try, for example, going to southern Labrador and walking out on a secluded sandy beach into a beautiful, quiet pond for a swim in its warm waters. You will never want to go anwhere else.

The fact is that the province does little if anything to promote Labrador and practically nothing to assist tourists who do end up going there (read VIC). That's rediculous.

WJM said...

Dispite what Labradoreans believe they are hardly the gate way to the province...

Yet more brave comments from an anonymous coward.

Despite what Noofoundlanders (if you can mess around with the spelling of Labradorian...) believe, they are hardly the gateway to Labrador.

There is no single gateway to the province. And Labrador City, the Labrador Straits, or Happy Valley-Goose Bay are certainly more "gateway to the province" than Deer Lake, Notre Dame Junction, Clarenville or Whitbourne.

What does the province do to (a) encourage tourism in, to, and through Labrador, and (b) support the ad-hoc visitor information infrastructure that is in place in Labrador?

Danny Williams said Labrador should be an "integral part of the province".

Was he lying, or just not telling the truth?

Anonymous said...

In a world of SMOG and INTENSE HEAT that occurs in North America and Europe from June to September, why isn't this province advertising to these areas.... that there exists in Newfoundland and Labrador a much better climate from June to Septemeber than you will find anywhere else. Very little smog and the temperatures are not swelteringly hot, but instead quite comfortable. At least in Labrador and Newfoundland during the summer we can hike, walk, canoe, and fish in very comfortable and almost crime free surroundings. Also the whole province is as it was 500 years ago, none of the province is converted into Theme Parks made of plastic, plastics which cause global warming, I am sure there are many would be tourists out there, who would like to see the world the way it once was. Not faked. That is the way Newfoundland and Labrador is....., Beautiful. THIS IS A GREAT ADVERTISING POINT, WHY NOT EXPLOIT IT.

In Europe and and North America, for a big part of the summer months, in recent years it has become too hot to do those activities that I just mentioned. All one can do is stay indoors in air conditioning, another cause of global warming; and in some cases deaths have occured because of the extreme heat that people experience.

Labrador and Newfoundland have much to offer and our people are just so friendly and helpful.

Mr. Tourism Minister let us extend a message to the world that we exist with such wonderful conditions. If people know about us and what we have to offer, they will come and visit and enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Face it by volume the VIC is much better served in NS then anywhere else in Labrador.

I may have not caught your suggestion but do you want it removed from NS and moved to Labrador or an additional one in Labrador?

If the money cannot be afforded to operate another in Labrador do you think the one in NS should be closed and moved to Labrador?

Does Labrador have their own tourism promotion organization, that promotes Labrador as a specific destination rather then the province as a whole?

NL-ExPatriate said...

Fallow field or bust.

No longer will we let Big business and outside interests hold us hostage with our own resources. That includes you to Harpocrite shit or get of the pot, Or are your interests and indebtitudes centered in the Oil patch.

Patriot said...

Hey NL - EX some pretty strong words there. I agree with the sentiment though whole heartedly. I usually try to take a couple of extra blood pressure pills in situations like this. It calms and relaxes all at the same time.

As for the poster who commented on Hebron, if you want to comment on that subject you will find an article in the May archive entitled "Danny Williams Master Poker Player". That might be a more appropriate place for your comment.

We try to keep things on track here as much as possible. Thanks.

WJM said...

Face it by volume the VIC is much better served in NS then anywhere else in Labrador.

Odd choice of words there.

I may have not caught your suggestion but do you want it removed from NS and moved to Labrador or an additional one in Labrador?

Additional one(s) in Labrador, or at least commensurate funding for the third-party VICs that already operate in Labrador.

If the money cannot be afforded to operate another in Labrador do you think the one in NS should be closed and moved to Labrador?

Why are there ones in NS, AND on the ferries AND in PaB? There seems to be a redunancy there.

Does Labrador have their own tourism promotion organization, that promotes Labrador as a specific destination rather then the province as a whole?

From time to time, yes.

I don't know of an organization that truly promotes the province as a whole. Do you?

Patriot said...

That organization is supposed to be the department of Tourism but you are right WJM, they do not promote the province as a "Whole" because they tend to forget Labrador exists.

It's sad that Labrador needs to try to do its own promotion, the province should be doing that but if that's the case then the least the provincial government should do is defray the costs.

Anonymous said...

So are you suggesting if funding doesn't support additional VIC's, you would like the NS one moved to Labrador?

WJM said...

I'm not going to argue with anonymice any more. Do you have a handle? If so, use it.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Here is one of the better Labrador tourism promotional sites I've found.


WJM haunts the Forum there as well :)

BNB said...

Do we put VICs in places that are "gateways" or have the most tourists? In that case we'll concentrate on North Sydney, the Gander airport, Argentia, and George Street.

Perhaps we need to consider globally what makes Newfoundland and Labrador particularly appealing to tourists. In that cause we need promotion of Iceberg tours on the Northern Peninisula and Twillingate, Capelin Runs, Whales, The Labrador Coast, Gros Morne, L'Anse aux Meadows, Lake trout in Labrador, Salmon Fishing on the West Coast and Central...

Most of this we never see promoted. Tourists from Europe love the coastal boats in Labrador and the southern shore. They love the whales and capelin, caribou and moose. Americans love to hunt and fish and we have world class lodges in Central, the West Coast and Labrador. Former Presidents vacation in the lodges of Labrador... How much of this sort of thing is actively promoted.

More promotion of regional attractions and the VICs to support them would pay out.

I know I'll regret it but I've got Wally's back on this one too.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Personally I say get rid of Argentia unless of course they move it directly into St John's Harbour from Halifax where walk ons would and could actually become a possibility.

Better still run that ferry from St John't to Bar harbour maine or Boston.

If that isn't possible entice the Bar Harbour Maine to Yarmouth NS Cat to add a leg to St John's on it's route.

Lower the Bloody price, my god 100$ a car 20 Bucks a head one way. For something that was apart of the Terms of Union with NL joining Canada.

WJM said...

Tourists from Europe love the coastal boats in Labrador and the southern shore.

Southern shore? South coast, you mean; "southern shore" is that bit of the Avalon south of St. John's.

It's hard to do a tourist trip on either the Labrador coast or the south coast of Newfoundland these days. Contrast that to the ease with which you can do one on the Montreal-Magdalen Islands or Rimouski-North Shore runs in Quebec, the BC marine highway, or Norway.

It's pathetic.

WJM said...

Lower the Bloody price, my god 100$ a car 20 Bucks a head one way.

How does that compare to other ferries, adjusted for distance?

For something that was apart of the Terms of Union with NL joining Canada.

What about it?

Why do Newfoundlanders think that there was a hedge against inflation written into the Terms of Union; that a 1% increase in the Marine Atlantic rate is cause for separation or something?

Atikonak said...

With regard to tourism this entire province is being short changed. The Dept. of Tourism is not promoting effectivly to anyone, including operators.

Each region has a "Destination" marketing board that is responsible for marketing but the interrelations between them and the Dept and HNL etc. need work.

For labrador it's www.destinationlabrador.com
But they are only newly formed and still trying to wrok the kinks out.

The province has drafted a tourism strategy document but I don't think it government policy just a discussion paper so for now the entire industry is in disaray.

And while it's true there are no official VIC's in Labrador ther has been both provincial and federal money spent on tourism centers. I know that for Lab West the Gateway building was a very expensive venture for ACOA and DITRD.

Perhaps the province should absorb that building and turn it into an official VIC?

The tousism industry needs leadership and strategic planning that has to come from government.

robert said...

Lower the Bloody price, my god 100$ a car 20 Bucks a head one way.

I am by no means a global traveler but over the past few years I have used quite a few ferries on the east and west coasts of North America for vacation and for the daily commute to work, so I can feel your pain.

Unfortunatly the PAB to NS is one of the cheapest ferry rates you will find.

Just back of the envelope calculations (for one auto under 15' and two adult passengers one way):

PAB to NS (96 mi):

Passengers: ($27.00 x2 CDN)
Auto: ($76.50 CDN)
Total: ($130.50 CDN)

Bar Harbour Main to Yarmouth, NS (100 mi):

Passengers: ($53.00 x2 USD)
Security Certificates: ($10 x2 USD)
Auto: ($95.00 USD)
Total:($221.00 USD)or($242.00 CDN)

A difference of ($115.5 CDN).

Even when parity is considered the NS to NL leg is still considerably cheaper.