Hotel says province denied them tourism maps

Brodie Thomas
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A Nova Scotia hotel attempting to get tourism literature from the provincial government hit a wall, until a Port aux Basques town councillor raised the issue.

Councillor Rick Farrell holds the sign he found at the North Starr Inn in North Sydney telling visitors that there were no Newfoundland and Labrador travel maps or guides available. The sign directs tourists to the provincial visitor information centre in North Sydney, where maps and booklets were available.

The province says it was just a shipping delay.

Carmen Boudreau has worked the front desk at the North Starr Inn in North Sydney for the past five years. The hotel overlooks the Marine Atlantic terminal and caters to many ferry passengers.

For at least 15 years, the hotel has had a table with brochures from all four Atlantic Provinces.

Boudreau said she first placed her order for road maps and booklets on April 29 by calling the Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism 1-800 number, as she does every year. She ordered similar literature from the three other provinces on the same day.

She said the other provinces delivered the orders promptly, but not Newfoundland.

“Three weeks later I called again and ordered again,” said Boudreau. “I still didn’t get them, so I called to see what the hold-up was.”

She said on her third call, the operator told her the provincial government would only be giving brochures to the provincial visitor information centres, due to cutbacks.

Boudreau printed a sign telling guests where they could go to get Newfoundland maps and brochures, and she placed it with the other tourism literature.

Her sign caught the eye of Port aux Basques town councillor Rick Farrell.

Farrell was at the North Star Inn with the Gateway Seniors 50+ Club on June 20.

He took a photo of the sign, sending it along to Burgeo-La Poile MHA Andrew Parsons as well as Tourism Minister Terry French.

Farrell raised the issue at the July 16 Port aux Basques Town Council meeting. He said Parsons had responded to his concerns, but he had not heard anything from the Department of Tourism.

However Boudreau is pretty sure Farrell’s complaints did not fall on deaf ears.

“Once [Farrell] left, it was within a week and a half we received them,” she said. “I was just thrilled when they arrived.”

In the two weeks since, Boudreau has already given out all the maps she was provided, and most of the booklets as well. She forgot to count how many she received.

Now she isn’t sure if the books were a one time gesture, or if the province will send her more.

“I considered that this morning,” she said, speaking on July 17. “Do I call? Will they send me more?”

A spokeswoman for the department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation said over the phone that there had simply been a delay in shipping.

When asked about the nature of the shipping delay, along with other questions, the department responded with an email.

The email said the department has a reciprocal arrangement with the other Atlantic Canada provinces to share provincial travel guides within the region.

The spokeswoman wrote that the department “sometimes provides small quantities of tourism brochures to hotels and motels” and that the department has been reviewing such requests.

She said businesses within the province get first priority on the 130,000 travel guides and maps printed for this year.

The spokeswoman also said the number of printed guides has gone down due to higher traffic on the province’s tourism website. Between July 2012 and June 2013, the website had over one million hits, a 28 per cent increase over the same time in the previous year.

The province did not respond to questions about the nature of the shipping delay that kept the brochures from the North Star Inn.

Organizations: North Starr Inn, Marine Atlantic terminal, North Star Inn Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism 1 Department of Tourism Gateway Seniors 50

Geographic location: Newfoundland, North Sydney, Atlantic Provinces Port aux Basques Atlantic Canada

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