CORNER BROOK Mark Lamswood says it’s unfortunate that someone in a key role has lost their job, but he is confident the tourism product in western Newfoundland will continue to contribute to the province’s overall goal of doubling that sector’s revenue by 2020.
The executive director of the Western Destination Management Organization said his organization had many dealings with the outdoor product development specialist, one of two positions cut out of the western Newfoundland office of the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation in the recent provincial budget.
There were also jobs cut from that department and others elsewhere in the province that also work with the tourism industry. While all that input has been lost, Lamswood said the tourism sector will have to draw upon the resources that are still available to keep working on Vision 2020, the plan announced by the province several years ago to double tourism numbers.
“We deal with all kinds of folks at (the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation), from the grassroots regional level right on up to the minister,” said Lamswood. “In tourism in this province, everybody is involved with the successes and, in order for us to get to where we need to go with Vision 2020, if we lose a body or two along the way, it doesn’t necessarily mean our impending doom.”
The goal of the province is to see the tourism industry raking in $1.6 billion annually. It recently breached the $1-billion mark.
The industry is hoping that maybe the province’s fortunes will turn around and government’s tourism spending will be restored to what it was prior to this budget and, along with it, some of the jobs that have been cut.
Eddie Joyce, the Opposition critic for Tourism, Culture and Recreation, said in a news release issued last week that he was surprised to learn of the position cut from the tourism department’s western regional office.
“Government just does not appreciate the work being done at the office in Corner Brook and I fail to understand how government can leave a single individual to provide a key service for such a large region,” said the Liberal legislature member for Bay of Islands, who questioned how the cut helps the goal of growing the tourism industry.
“The tourism industry has tremendous potential for growth and I find it very ironic that government would eliminate tourism positions at this crucial time for the industry.”
The job that remains in Corner Brook is essentially the department’s representative in western Newfoundland and is an ex-officio member of the Western DMO’s board. The person who held that position has recently retired and the job is now held by another government employee who bumped into the job from a different department.
Lamswood is confident that person has the skills and knowledge to be quickly brought up to speed about where the local tourism industry currently is and will contribute to the collective goal of advancing the sector in western Newfoundland.
“We might need to backtrack a little bit before we can move forward again, but the consensus is we’ve got some serious momentum going in the province in the tourism sector and we want to keep going in the right direction,” said Lamswood. “Not to belittle the role (of the position cut), but it might take more than just losing a body or two for us to fall off track,”