By JIM HILDEBRAND
TWILLINGATE — In the May 8 edition of the Pilot it was reported in the article “A Step Into The Future Of Tourism” that tourism in Twillingate is already an $18 million dollar industry and growing.
The Twillingate-New World Island Strategic Tourism Expansion Plan (STEP) points at the need to develop and market a package of attractions that will draw more tourists and emphasize that Twillingate is more than just a one day tourist destination. Improving and enhancing products and ensuring development and innovation are key strategies to ensure that there is something for a visitor who wants to experience the outport life of the island, to revel in the splendour of the natural beauty of the coastline and to have a connection to the majesty of the icebergs or to cheer with delight at the sight of a breaching whale.
Adventure Tourism is a category of vacationing that is becoming increasingly popular and has room for further expansion in the Twillingate market. General manager of OQ – Close Encounters Twillingate Grant Cudmore, cannot disguise his exuberance at providing a new experience for tourists who wish to transcend their vacation into an experience that brings them closer and more in touch with our natural surroundings.
Mr. Cudmore’s OQ-Close Encounters Twillingate will be opening on Gary Guy's wharf at the official start of tourist season, scheduled for early June. The business will be providing kayak and zodiac adventures for visitors, a first for Twillingate.
“This is for the person who wants to explore,” Mr. Cudmore explained.
“Our aim is to provide an experience that can't be had from the window of a car or bus. It is interactive and will marry the comfort of general tourism with the thrill of being so close to nature but wrapped in an aura of safety. We want to bring out the inner child of people, to relish the exploration of our treasures and to go into the nooks and crannies where a larger vessel cannot go. We want our guests to be more in touch with nature and to be part of the planning of their adventure.”
OQ-Close Encounters Twillingate is a subsidiary of Ocean Quest Adventures, an award winning Newfoundland Company that is already established in Conception Bay South and Gros Morne National Park.
The Twillingate encounter will focus on kayak and zodiac adventures with an eye to future expansion into scuba diving as their product matures.
All tours are guided and visitors will work with the guides to plan their excursion and map out what they wish to encounter. The guides will introduce the participant to their boat’s features and give a general lesson in basic paddle strokes — with emphasis on getting comfortable. All kayakers will be provided a wet suit and personal floatation devices.
Mr. Cudmore expounds upon the safety of the adventures.
“The kayaks are double wide. I have tried tipping them with my girlfriend and it is almost impossible. All tours will have an experienced guide who is trained in all aspects of safety,” he said. “The guide will also provide interpretive information to the adventurers so that will have a deeper understanding of the historical and geographical aspects of our area.”
Our boats are a perfect platform to get a little adrenaline boost, to get excited and touch the sea, to sit and smell the ocean air and to connect with our history. You can possibly imagine a connection with the traditions of fishermen in their dories on the ocean or the Beothuks journeying in their canoes. We will provide the paddler with information and try to answer their questions but we also want them to be able to sit back, relax in silence and take this all in. We want them to have a bragworthy experience; something that they will put on their social network page and exclaim that ‘I did that!’ or ‘I was there!’. “
The zodiac rides also provide a new experience for tourists to the Twillingate area.
Mr. Cudmore said, “We will be able to bring visitors into the little coves along the shoreline and see sea-life in tidal pools or explore a sea cave. The zodiac is powered with two 90 horsepower motors so we can get to different areas quickly, savouring the feel of the ocean spray, and possibly follow a whale or gasp at the wonders of the huge icebergs.”
Mr. Cudmore hopes that his adventure tourism will be one of the catalysts to lure the traveller to Twillingate.
“I hope to pass on my love of nature and the wonders of kayaking in this area,” he said. “We want people to talk about Twillingate when they mention east coast kayaking. I want to be part of the community, to live here and grow old while prospering and helping the tourism industry grow.”