Monty Shears, owner of the Fishing Point Emporium, said this steady increase will be a much-needed aid at a time when the province is in such a financial struggle.
“It’s encouraging. It seems to be getting better every year,” Shears said. “Tourism is not enough to sustain a town like St. Anthony, but it’s a big help. St. Anthony, like most outports, needs everything it can get.”
Shears said there are likely several factors at play in this tourism boom, the major component being the low Canadian dollar, which is bringing in more ‘come from aways’ from both abroad and within the country.
“With the Canadian dollar so low, more Canadians are staying in Canada, and even going to the States is just too expensive now,” he said.
Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism’s efforts in promoting the province, as well as the Iceberg Festival, have also been a big help in making June a successful month for tourism.
“It has all the makings of a fantastic year,” Shears said.
So far this year, Shears has seen tourists arriving from across Canada and abroad from the U.S., Australia, Switzerland, Germany, France and Ireland. He said with accommodations already so filled up for July and August, people are coming out earlier this year.
Desmond McDonald of the Grenfell Heritage Hotel and Suites said he’s had an occupancy rate of roughly 95 per cent for month of June and is already booked up full stop for July.
“It booked out early this year,” McDonald said. “We got bookings solid pretty much ‘til October.”
While much of the the province, particularly areas like St. Anthony, have suffered through a rough and extended winter this year, Shears said the weather is a rare complaint for tourists.
“They come here expecting the worst, and sometimes they get it,” he said with a laugh. “But as long as it’s dry, they don’t mind.”
This year’s winter also brought heavy pack ice into the harbours of outports like St. Anthony. While it caused some cancelled trips for boat tours and ferry services on the island, Shears said, in many ways, the ice has been a treat for tourist season.
“The pack ice was a unique sight for many people, something totally different,” he said.
While people in Shears’ situation get to see and speak with a variety of foreign travellers that venture to the province on a daily basis, he said it’s unfortunate many do not get to witness to the full extent the major role tourism plays in their communities.
“People from all over the world come here, and a lot of locals never get to see them,” he said.
By Kyle Greenham
The Northern Pen