‘It’s so beautiful’

Southwest coast trying to open its hidden treasure: tourism operator

Cory Hurley cory.hurley@tc.tc
Published on June 17, 2014

It’s still a bit of a marvel as to the number of people shocked at the beauty of the south west coast of Newfoundland, even for a tourism operator.

Linda Mitchelmore owns Gillett’s Motel and Gallery Restaurant in Burgeo. She sees many of the adventurous tourists looking to discover the far reaches of the province’s spectacular sites.

It is pretty typical of the ones who visit to be pleasantly surprised by the scenic coastline of jagged cliffs or sandy beaches. The fjords of Francois and the remote island of Ramea and communities such as Grey River are unique experiences to this area.

“We have seven kilometres of white sandy beaches, which are beautiful and with beautiful trails,” she said.

Burgeo is the hub of the southwest coast. A ferry runs from the town to Grey River, Francois and Ramea.

Once people travel to the southwest coast, there is usually no problem making it worth their while. It is getting them there that is the challenge.

“It’s so beautiful,” she said. “It’s too bad more people don’t come. We would like to get more people down there for sure.”

Mitchelmore said tourists have likened the ferry ride to the isolated communities as a cruise — an $8 one at that, for an hour and 10 minutes.

“The little town of Ramea, it’s so beautiful,” she said. “It’s so clean and beautiful in the summer.”

Mitchelmore attended the second annual Tourism Week Mixer Monday at the Humber Valley Resort. It was held by the Western Newfoundland Destination Management Organization, in partnership with Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador.

At the event attended by about 50 people, Mark Lamswood, executive director, said the tourism organization has secured its contract from 2014-2017. The group is now about much more than marketing.

“We will see a lot more of this destination development type stuff,” he said.

He encouraged the operators in the room to keep thinking about the service they provide in terms of quality. He said it is important to consider things like green initiatives in their businesses.

The organization has 38 familiarization tours scheduled this summer, with the first one occurring Wednesday.

“Our problem is not trying to convince people to come here, our problem is trying to deliver within the resource allocations we have and pick the ones we want to allow come through here,” Lamswood said.