Terry French (right), minister of tourism, speaks with St. John’s Rotary Club member Louis Puddister before their regular luncheon at the Fairmont Hotel Thursday. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
Why mess with a good thing? According to Tourism Minister Terry French, Newfoundland and Labrador has no plans to make any major changes to its tourism campaign in the coming year.
French was invited to speak at a Rotary Club meeting in St. John’s Thursday. The minister touted the province’s award-winning advertising campaign as a major reason Newfoundland and Labrador is now seen as a tourism destination.
He also said there were no plans to change that strategy any time soon.
“We’ll continue on with Find Yourself Here. We’ve had such success with it and our numbers are up unbelievably. We’re up 22 per cent since 2003 since we started,” said French.
The campaign was developed by local company Target Marketing and Communications Inc. and has been in use for five years.
Probably the most visible aspect of the campaign has been the colourful TV commercials, which are broadcast nationwide and on the Internet.
But French was tight-lipped when asked about locations for shooting the videos for next season’s commercials.
There is still a lot of work to do before final locations are nailed down, he said, so it wouldn’t be appropriate to speculate.
“We’ve been looking at some interesting ones this year. There’s multiple really, but there’s four or five that we’re looking at with some seriousness. I can’t really get into what we’ve done because we haven’t made the finalized decision,” said French.
But he did drop one hint.
“But I will tell you one thing. They have been doing some filming in central Newfoundland. So we’ll see where we go from there,” he chuckled.
As for tourism numbers for this season, French said that official numbers won’t be available until sometime in the new year, but he did have some preliminary indications.
Overall it’s looking like a mixed bag season, mostly because of the weather, he said.
“We’ve got areas having a banner year, others that are a little slower because maybe they were weather dependant, but generally our indicators are that non-resident numbers are up. So that’s something. Our air travel is up. ... Our roofed accommodations are up. That’s always a good indicator ... so you know everything is pointing in the right direction,” said French.
One challenge French foresees for the province’s tourism sector is expanding on opportunities present in Labrador, which has a lot of untapped tourism potential, he added.