Making even more from tourists

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I read with interest the article in your Feb. 22 issue boasting that tourist spending surpassed $1 billion last year.

When former premier Danny Williams was elected, he immediately commissioned a pre-feasibility study on a fixed link across the Strait of Belle Isle, a distance of nine miles. Hatch Mott MacDonald was given the contract by the Harris Centre.

This is one of the largest consulting firms in the world and they employ hundreds of highly qualified engineers.

They concluded that a fixed link was technically feasible and recommended that a full feasibility study should be undertaken.

The report was released in 2005 and, to date, absolutely no action has been undertaken by our provincial government to implement their recommendation.

Consequently, tourists travelling by car from the rest of North America have to pay, if they have a cabin, $700 return fare on Marine Atlantic and if they have a trailer, the cost will be $2,500.

By comparison, the return fare from Prince Edward Island on their fixed link is $42.

I think you would agree most tourists are not millionaires and these costs would inhibit many of them from choosing this province as their vacation destination.

I am absolutely amazed that organizations such as Hospitality NL, a restaurant association or a bed and breakfast association are not leading the charge to influence our government to act on the main recommendation of the Hatch Mott MacDonald report to undertake a full feasibility study.

It is all the more amazing when you consider we are on the doorstep of 313 million American and 34 million Canadian citizens who could travel to this province by road without having to pay the exorbitant ferry costs and uncertainty of interruption in their travel schedule due to unfavourable weather conditions.

It would be interesting to project how many billions more tourists would spend if we had a fixed link.


Burford Ploughman

St. John’s

Organizations: Harris Centre, Marine Atlantic

Geographic location: North America, Prince Edward Island

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Recent comments

  • Burford Ploughman
    February 28, 2013 - 15:58

    I'm afraid the comments by "I Forgot" indicates he is not very well informed on his geography. If he had taken the trouble to check the road distances from St.John's to Quebec City through the Maritime provinces against the road distance from St.John's via the Strait of Belle Isle and along the Quebec Lower North Shore to Quebec City he would find the difference is 40km. When you take into consideration time lost on the ferry, produce destined for our province would arrive day earlier with the fixed link route. Burford Ploughman

    • I forgot
      March 01, 2013 - 08:04

      I'm afraid that the comment by Burford Ploughman indicates that he is not familiar with real driving conditions. I suggest you try driving that route and then report back on the real time difference and costs. Roads on a map are not the same as real roads and real driving conditions.

    • too funny
      March 01, 2013 - 10:05

      "...the Strait of Belle Isle and along the Quebec Lower North Shore to Quebec City". Does such a road exist?

  • Frank
    February 28, 2013 - 08:30

    A fixed link from "Nowhere" to "Nowhere". Who in their right mind would use it?

  • david
    February 27, 2013 - 08:34

    The tourism figure was an outlandish lie.....but they must know what they are doing, because no one but me even questions it. The feasibility of a fixed link is technical only....a link could be physically built. We here in Newfoundland don't know how to get beyond that....the issues of how much would it cost, and how "used" it would it be doesn't register. Undoubtedly because we have all been weaned on the idea that money is "free" and endless. Marine Atlantic is all there will ever be folks, and diverting the focus of this abomination to red herrings, hallucinations and fantasies does not help. MA can be fixed....someone in power just needs to care, and then someone competent needs to try.

    • W Bagg
      February 27, 2013 - 11:47

      you're not the only one, if tourists were dropping 1B like suggested that would be over 10M in direct sales tax (provincial) and would mean if each tourists spent 5K each, that woulda meant we had 200k tourists. Most tourist here are actually people coming home to visit family who had to move away to work. Great tourism strategy hey!

  • You forgot
    February 27, 2013 - 08:12

    A fixed link?? You mean on the Northern Pen.? A fixed link would mean the end of the ferry service. So the choice is to give up the ferry and instead drive for days up the North. Pen., across Labrador and then down through Quebec. Thats quite a bit of time and money gone, more than the cost of the ferry I believe. People won't have to worry about the high price of fresh food because under that scheme there will be no more fresh food.

  • Alec C
    February 27, 2013 - 07:35

    As with whistle-blower legislation, releasing their alleged energy plan, updating their natural gas portfolio (2002) the fixed link concept is sidestepped by the PCs. With so few sitting days you would think the PC MHAs would be able to have the answers for the above by the time the HoA reopens. Must be too busy poll padding and calling into open line.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    February 27, 2013 - 07:33

    That same Hatch Mott MacDonald fixed link report also concluded that a fixed link could include a power line/transmission link and that by using a fixed link (instead of Nalcor's undersea cable) the cost of a power line transmission link from Labrador to the island would be reduced by $400 million (to say nothing about how much more flexible and cost effective it would be to repair a transmission line that runs through a fixed link or to upgrade the line to accommodate Upper Churchill power). ..........See link to Hatch Mott MacDonald report at . ........... Of course, Nalcor do not want a fixed link, because then there would be no need to build the massively high cost, high risk, Muskrat Falls dam and generation facility.......... The dam/generation facility increases Nalcor's infrastructure, and since Nalcor's revenues are calculated and determined based on the the value of its infrastructure, the Muskrat Falls dam/generation facility increases (by billions over 50 years) the amount that Nalcor can extract out of the pockets of low and middle income ratepayers, while a fixed link would benefit both Labrador and island ratepayers/citizens/voters much, much more and save them billions (but would reduce by billions of dollars what Nalcor could otherwise scheme out of the pockets of citizens it is supposed to be serving). .... While it is not surprising that Nalcor is putting its own interest first, it is government's job to put the interest of its citizens first ----- and it is clearly not doing so. A fixed link could save ratepayers/voters $25 billion over 50 years. See .