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Tourism stakeholders looking to piece together a regional plan for Gros Morne

The Strategic Tourism for Areas and Regions Committee for the Gros Morne region is looking for the direction to be taken by building a regional sustainable tourism plan in collaboration with industry, businesses and communities.
The Strategic Tourism for Areas and Regions Committee for the Gros Morne region is looking for the direction to be taken by building a regional sustainable tourism plan in collaboration with industry, businesses and communities. - Star file photo

What will Gros Morne offer as a tourist destination over the next decade?

Will it continue to attract big numbers and what will be added to make it even more attractive to those seeking a wonderful getaway from the hectic grind of life?

The Strategic Tourism for Areas and Regions Committee for the Gros Morne region is looking for the direction to be taken by building a regional sustainable tourism plan in collaboration with industry, businesses and communities.

The committee, under co-chairpersons Raymond Cusson and Shirley Montague, is being led by the Gros Morne Cooperating Association under the leadership of executive director Colleen Kennedy.

The committee, over the past year, held a series of public consultations, a resident survey and developed an asset inventory as a way to gain feedback from major stakeholders in six different sectors to see what the vision is for Gros Morne for five-and-10-year benchmarks.

The committee is now holding more public meetings in January to share the findings with representatives from municipalities, tourism, businesses, arts and culture, heritage and Parks Canada to see what the blueprint for the future will look like.

Cusson said a regional sustainable tourism plan is key to growing tourism in the area. He said it makes sense for all hands to work together on achieving goals and objectives than it is for everybody to take their own individual approach to boosting the tourism activity.

“We realized that Gros Morne hasn’t reached its full potential,” Cusson said Saturday morning from Shoal Brook.

“If all those people are going in a different direction in tourism it isn’t going to help,” he added.

Cusson was happy to see the tourism numbers for Gros Morne hit a record-high 260,000 visitors in 2017 and knows there is untapped potential, but he warns that there are challenges to be addressed when people are talking about an extension to the tourism season being a way to make life better for everybody with a vested interest.

A longer season would be a challenge for municipalities when it comes to adequate infrastructure and most importantly human resources, because getting adequate staff for the tourism season has always been a challenge for tourism stakeholders, according to Cusson.

The big numbers for 2017, Cusson believes, had a lot to do with it being a unique year with the Canada 150 Celebrations and free passes to Parks Canada for the year.

He’s not sure if the numbers can be maintained this year. He expects there would be a leveling off, but doesn’t see the numbers taking a dip this year.

It’s a matter of having a plan in place regardless of what unfolds and that’s why he hopes to see people engage in the public consultations to ensure the best plan is put together for everybody.

“It’s fine to extend the season, but you have to have capacity to extend it,” he said.

Public consultations

Thursday, Jan. 11

Cow Head Town Hall

7 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 17

Woody Point Town Hall

7 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 18

Norris Point Town Hall

7 p.m.

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