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Newfoundland is hard to reach. Tourism strategy should include adversity


With the news that WestJet is cutting its service to Newfoundland and Labrador by a lot, and with Marine Atlantic’s service to the mainland still being messed up, it’s time to rethink our overall plan for tourism.

There will be fewer ways to get to and from the province, and the ones that remain will cost more. Given Air Canada’s history of shady business practices, we can expect them to raise ticket prices by a lot in the near future. It’s clear that we need to quietly take down the open invitation to visitors and replace it with a call to a niche market of adventure tourists.

We need to take advantage of the fact that it’s hard and expensive to get here from almost anywhere, which is isolating us more and more from the rest of the world. We need to start looking for travelers who are more interested in places like Antarctica or North Korea than, say, Nova Scotia.

Newfoundland is hard to reach.

There are some good things about this turn of events. No European tourist who has flown 3,000 km west of St. John’s through Pearson Airport, which is one of the most unreliable airports in the world, and then flown 3,000 km back the way they came, is going to have high expectations of service when they get there. If you had to fly so far past your destination to turn around, you probably won’t find rental cars, taxis, or places to eat at the airport.

When there are fewer tourists, there will be fewer Airbnbs. This will free up some space in the tight St. John’s rental market.

In retrospect, it seems like a cargo cult that the Torbay airport terminal building was expanded before new users were found. But there’s nothing stopping the space from being used for something else, like a store or storage.

Exploring whether airlines other than those from Montreal or Calgary might be interested in using YYT would require action from those in charge, so it is not likely to happen.

Remember that it’s good for business and not a terrible thing.

The best minds (okay, “minds”) in the department have been trying for weeks to figure out how to make this look “good for business” instead of “a disaster,” but she still doesn’t have an answer.

One could argue, and some young urban utopians will like this, that the drop in business and the lower amount of gas used to get here and leave can only be good for the environment. Our carbon footprint will be about as big as a kitten’s paw print in new snow. This change in how business is done will bother anyone who is even a little bit ambitious, but they are still in the minority.

People who can remember flying directly to Heathrow or Newark in comfort are getting old and will soon die. That kind of easy travel will become a myth, just like most people in the airport authority don’t believe that Reykjavik and Frankfurt are real places.

Let’s stop arguing about how this happened and who is to blame. This is a small town, and we all know a lot of the people who are to blame. They are good people who often make mistakes because they don’t always pay attention. Let’s admit that most Canadians are worried about bad public transportation in growing cities and couldn’t care less if Newfoundland is aggressively going back to being a dangerous, hard-to-reach rock in the North Atlantic.

We will have to solve this problem ourselves, with a lot of the same people who have messed up things over and over again in the past. We’re going to have to work together more and more because there’s no way out.


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