ST. ANTHONY & PORT AU CHOIX, NL. – Western DMO held its first two Tourism Opportunities Management Sessions on the Great Northern Peninsula over the past week.
On April 17 at the Haven Inn in St. Anthony and on April 18 at the Sea Echo Motel in Port au Choix, the non-profit organization invited anyone with an interest in facilitating tourism growth to discuss the industry on the Great Northern Peninsula. Another six meetings will be held throughout the rest of western Newfoundland.
Per its website, Western DMO, “is a non-profit organization whose role is to develop and market Western Newfoundland as a world class multi-season tourism destination.”
Mark Lamswood is the organization’s executive director. He told the Northern Pen it was an opportunity to get people from different backgrounds out to discuss tourism with each other, and not just with Western DMO and government representatives.
“It takes all hands to build a destination,” he said. “So, the storytellers, the narrators, the musicians, the crafters, the people that host hotels, gas stations – if you’re interested at all in the tourism sector, we put this invite out for anyone to join us and talk tourism.”
He says the turnout for the sessions were “really good,” with about 30 people coming out to attend each of them.
“There is so much going on and there are so many people involved in upping our game in tourism development all throughout western Newfoundland,” he said.
Lamswood feels it’s an exciting time for the industry. And he believes the Great Northern Peninsula has some of western Newfoundland’s “most appealing landscape.”
He highlights the narrative of the people, as well as the different cultures.
“There’s ancient cultures, Indigenous cultures, Viking cultures, maritime archaic, French cultures,” he said. “As an encore, I think what we really need to do is draw out our storytellers, our people that can help to interpret all that and engage face-to-face with our visitors.”
Lamswood is excited about where tourism is going on the Great Northern Peninsula.
“There are some really good operators doing really good things, they’re beginning to reach out, they’re coming out of their shell, becoming more confident and informed about what they’re doing,” he said. “And these kinds of sessions really help with all that.”
Lamswood says Western DMO received help from different groups in organizing the sessions, including CBDC Nortip, the Viking Trail Tourism Association, former Western DMO board members at the Grenfell Interpretation Centre, Parks Canada, and federal and provincial governments.
“I’m really pleased with how both the sessions went,” he said. “And we’ll take it from there.”