Hotels and inns are steadily booking visitors for an extended tourism season. So far, numbers are impressive, says Adventure Central chairman Wayne Hallett.
“Everyone I speak to is significantly ahead of last year – and last year we had a phenomenal season,” according to Hallett, owner/operator of The Prints of Whales Inn in Sandringham. “People are coming in earlier and staying later, so our numbers are up significantly.”
The Twillingate-New World Island area continues to appeal to visitors, said Deborah Bourden, owner of the Anchor Inn Hotel and Alphabet Fleet Inn in Twillingate. She said bookings are following a five-year trend of visitors arriving earlier in May, and extending their travel into October.
Attention from the Broadway play “Come From Away”, the story of Newfoundlanders’ hospitality to thousands of stranded passengers in the Gander-Lewisporte area during 9/11, has great potential to attract visitors to the province.
“We are hoping that “Come from Away” will increase travel to central Newfoundland, but we can assume that it to be a bigger factor in 2018, considering the play has just hit Broadway,” said Bourden.
Icebergs continue to attract tourists, and the International Ice Patrol’s predictions of an early crop of hundreds of icebergs this season is welcome news for tourism operators located in the heart of Iceberg Alley. Even so, Bourden has noticed tourists have much more than icebergs on their agendas.
“Increasingly, we see active travellers of all ages who explore ‘bucket list’ items,” she said. “This is an off-the-beaten-path destination that promises adventure and new things to discover.”
Travellers are pursuing a range of interests, from exploring local history and culture, to finding inspiration for photography and filmmaking projects in the area’s scenic beauty. Local festivals, such as the Unscripted Twillingate Digital Arts Festival held in September, are attracting people looking for a unique experience.
“Visitors want to get to know us,” said Bourden. “They enjoy interacting and hearing stories of who we are, about our culture, heritage and our way of life.”
According to Hallett, offering the personal connection visitors seek is “the key to it all.”
“Tourism will grow as long as we deliver on what people expect,” he said. “Most guests are looking for natural and cultural experiences here – they will hike the trails, go out looking for whales and eagles, or come to see icebergs. But if they make contact with people who welcome them, they will talk about that personal contact before they even think about the wildlife they saw.”
Most of Hallett’s guests come from central Canada and the United States, with European visitors hailing mainly from the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom. This year, guests are booked from China, Romania and Switzerland. In Twillingate, visitors also come from all over, especially North America, but Bourden said numbers from western Europe are particularly strong.