The announcement of plans to develop a new tourism strategy for the Corner Brook and surrounding area took place with much fanfare at the Newfoundland Emporium last summer.
Owner Dave LeDrew says he hasn’t heard much about it since.
The craft and cultural novelty shop on Broadway epitomizes tourism, having been a regular stop for motorcoaches, cruise ship visitors and other travelers for decades.
The strategy is still in the development phase. A committee was struck to implement the process outlined by the Strategic Tourism for Areas and Regions (STAR) program being employed to construct the plan. There have been public consultations in the Bay of Islands and in Corner Brook.
This past week, another brainstorming session was held to further assess what the area has and what it needs to better position in the tourism marketplace.
There will be at least one more public session to whittle down the ideas that will ultimately form the draft plan to be presented by Tract Consultants early this summer.
LeDrew has not been at any of those sessions and no one has come to talk to him about it. He says he’s been too busy running his shop to have even known they were happening.
He was impressed with the original announcement and hopes the promise of not producing a report that simply gathers dust on a shelf comes true.
LeDrew has a few ideas of his own to stimulate the local tourism industry, including having a more strategically located tourist chalet.
He also believes the people who live in the immediate area need to better support local businesses because many of them seem to fail because they lack that support.
Business that do cater to tourism really need to concentrate on the needs of their customers too, especially if they are visiting from someplace else.
Stelman Flynn is co-chair of the STAR committee that is working on developing the strategy. He remains confident the plan will contain elements that can be acted on to improve the areas lot in the tourism world.
Flynn believes Marble Mountain may be the main amenity on which the regional tourism strategy could be based.
“To be honest, I think Marble, with the tax dollars and business it brings in, has been neglected and underestimated for far too long and there are some real opportunities there,” said Flynn.
Establishing a regional tourism officer who can market the entire area is also critical in Flynn’s mind. He added that introducing a hotel room levy could be a way to move that agenda forward, but said the priorities of the new strategy will ultimately have to be decided on by the local industry itself.