Tourism and 'Fracking' in Western Newfoundland: Interests and Anxieties of Coastal Communities and Companies in the Context of Sustainable Tourism  

Wendy BRAKE , Edward ADDO
Tourism Studies Program, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Grenfell Campus, Corner Brook, NL A2H 6P9 Canada
Author    Correspondence author
International Journal of Marine Science, 2014, Vol. 4, No. 2   doi: 10.5376/ijms.2014.04.0002
Received: 21 Sep., 2013    Accepted: 30 Oct., 2013    Published: 04 Jan., 2014
© 2014 BioPublisher Publishing Platform
This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Abstract

Both tourism and oil production have some positive and negative socio-economic, cultural and environmental impacts on communities and economies. The coastal communities of Port au Port, Lark Harbour and Sally’s Cove in Western Newfoundland, Canada are very much conscious of these impacts. In recent months, the communities have been confronted with a major challenge to either resist or welcome oil companies to drill oil using a technique known as hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’. Obviously, the communities are more worried about the negative impacts that fracking, if introduced, could have on their living conditions and local economies. This paper explores and describes the growth of tourism in Western Newfoundland and the aforementioned three communities and discusses the potential impacts that fracking could have on the tourism industry. The main research finding is that the strong objection to fracking by the coastal communities is justified in the knowledge that sustainable tourism depends on efficient and environmentally-friendly management of both natural and cultural resources, and the fact that tourism in Newfoundland and Labrador has been growing steadily and the three coastal communities modestly epitomize this trend. There are also urgent needs for more scientific education and objective knowledge about fracking, especially the positive impact it could have on tourism and other sectors of Western Newfoundland’s economy.

Keywords
Sustainable tourism; ‘Fracking’; Oil production; Coastal communities; Newfoundland and Labrador

1 Introduction
The coastal communities of Port au Port, Lark Harbour and Sally’s Cove in Western Newfoundland are justifiably concerned about the negative impacts that oil production using the technique of ‘fracking’ could have on tourism and living conditions if the necessary environmental and engineering measures are not timely and effectively taken. This concern is justified in the knowledge that in the past decade tourism in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada’s easternmost province and the largest province in Atlantic Canada (Figure 1), has been growing significantly and the three coastal communities have been contributing their shares to this development. Among the factors accounting for the growth of tourism, especially in Newfoundland, the island and southern portion of the province are institutional building, effective marketing strategies, community voluntarism, and adherence to the basic principles of sustainable tourism development (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, 2010).
This paper explores and describes the growth of tourism in Western Newfoundland and the aforementioned three coastal communities, and discusses the potential impacts that fracking could have on tourism, living conditions, and local economies. Furthermore, the competing interests and challenges facing the tourism sector and oil production in the study areas are examined in the context of sustainable tourism.

 

 

Figure 1 Canada: Provinces and Territories

Source: http://gocanada.about.com/od/canadatravelplanner/ig/Canada-Maps.--0v/Canada-Map.--2h.htm  

 

The next section outlines the research methodology. The literature reviewed on the tourism industry in Newfoundland and Labrador is presented in section three. The growth of the tourism sector, its potential for further growth and development, and its benefits to local communities on the west coast of Newfoundland are also discussed. An overview of the historical and geographical significance of the three coastal communities in Western Newfoundland, and their potential for tourism development are analyzed in section four. The goals of Shoal Point Energy (SPE) and Black Spruce Exploration Corp. (BSE) and their anticipated fracking activities in 2013 and subsequent years, and the potential impacts of fracking on tourism and the living conditions in the three coastal communities in Western Newfoundland are discussed in section five. The conflicting interests and anxieties of the tourism industry and oil production, and some pertinent lessons learned from different places are highlighted in section six. The seventh and final section underscores the contribution this paper makes to tourism studies and offers some recommendations for policy consideration in Newfoundland and Labrador.

2 Research Methodology
The research methodology adopted for the study was basically empirical and descriptive since the development of the tourism industry is at its early stage and fracking has not begun in Western Newfoundland.A meeting with some officials of Western Newfoundland Destination Management Organization (WNDMO) in January 2013 augmented the initial interest in the research topic; and the disclosure that fracking was scheduled to commence in Western Newfoundland in April 2013 also augmented the desire to find out the reactions of the three coastal communities to be affected.The curiosity to find out, describe and understand the impacts of fracking on tourism in the three coastal communities and Western Newfoundland was also increased.
Information gathering and data collection began with participation in some important meetings. The first meeting which was held on 17th January, 2013 in Rocky Harbour provided two outlooks on oil exploration and production involving fracking in Western Newfoundland. The first outlook, provided by the St. Laurence Coalition, called for a moratorium on fracking whilst the second outlook, provided by the owners and operators of Shoal Point Energy, advocated for it. A meeting with a resident of Corner Brook, an advocate of a campaign against fracking in Western Newfoundland, better informed one of the authors about some conflicting interests of tourism development and fracking in the three coastal communities. The meeting was recommended by a member of the Student Environmental Affairs Committee, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Grenfell Campus who had earlier indicated that the committee did not want to get involved with the contentious issue.
In addition to the meetings, direct contacts were made and interviews were conducted with members of the Bay St. George Sustainability Network; Gros Morne Adventures; Port au Port/Bay St. George Fracking Awareness Group; a professor who was conducting a similar research; and the Office of Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Emissions Trading (CCEEET). Secondary data were obtained from the following sources: Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador (HNL); Gros Morne National Park Visitor Survey; Energy Policy Forum; Nationwide Townhome Consultants; The Telegram and other newspapers; Canada Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) news; the websites of SPE, BSE, Gros Morne National Park (GMNP), Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), One Ocean, and Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation (DTCR); the St. Laurence Coalition presentation on fracking; the 2011 Newfoundland and Labrador Energy Efficiency Action Plan; the 2010 Ambassador (a publication of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador); National Geographic magazine; Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB); the Huffington Post; and tourism economic reports. Additionally, the websites of HNL, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and Corner Brook Port Corporation (CBPC) provided some relevant information and data. Visits to the three communities, work experiences of one of the authors in the tourism sector on the Northern Peninsula and upbringing in the Bay St. George area, and meetings with officials of BSE and CBPC facilitated the processes of information and data collection and analysis.
The research methodology also included a three-prong literature review that focused on the genesis and growth of the tourism industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, recent developments in the tourism industry, and oil exploration and fracking in Western Newfoundland. Each subject area was reviewed in the context of economic development challenges facing the province, opportunities for development, and current knowledge about the literature on sustainable tourism development.
An interesting observation made in the course of data collection and literature review was that two Facebook pages Save Gros Morne and our West Coast and Port au Port/Bay St. George Fracking Awareness Grouphad received several comments and criticisms from visitors. The comments and criticisms linked the visitors to some credible studies, video clips and other comments relevant to the newspaper stories. For example, news release from Scott Vaughn, Canada's Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development was posted here and links to newspaper stories or reports on the subject and some places facing similar challenges were made available to visitors.
3 Tourism in Newfoundland and Labrador: the Genesis, Institutions and Impacts
The economy of Newfoundland and Labrador has been characterized by some great successes and major setbacks. The abundance of fish in Canada’s territorial waters of the Atlantic Ocean bordering Newfoundland and Labrador’s east coast was once known worldwide. In the 1800s, fishermen came from all over Europe to fish seasonally off Newfoundland’s shores. Some of the European fishermen settled and raised their families in small and dispersed coastal communities. In the early 1990s fishing had become the main occupation of Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans (Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage, 2013a).
There are claims that tourism development in Newfoundland began in the 1890s. The government at the time considered tourism as a vehicle for generating jobs and employment. There were few international visitors and travel by boat or rail was easy and common. Most of the visitors who came from North America and Europe were well educated and wealthy travelers searching for wilderness experience. Newfoundland was quite underdeveloped then and was marketed as nature lovers’ paradise. Pictures showing the beautiful landscape and scenery were used for destination marketing. In the 1920s when the government realized that tourism could not be sustainable without further development, more roads and lodging facilities were constructed to accommodate visitors (Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage, 2013b).
The Great Depression and the Second World War (WWII) had negative impacts on the island’s economy. After the war Newfoundland had to compete with other destinations for wealthy travelers who were looking for places to visit for pleasure and business. Newfoundland could not favorably compete because of its relatively underdeveloped economy, especially its physical infrastructure. Despite the fact that there were few roads before confederation in 1949, an increasing number of tourists arrived and gained new perspectives on the simpler and natural life of Newfoundlanders. Premier Joseph Smallwood was committed to developing the tourism industry (Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage, 2013b).
After confederation in 1949, Premier Joseph Smallwood remained committed to developing the tourism industry because of the abundance of natural resources and unique cultures of the people. Travel became easier once air passenger services were expanded and more ferry services were scheduled to and from the island. Successive governments after Premier Joseph Smallwood continued to develop the tourism industry. Furthermore, the federal government’s interest in establishing national parks and historic sites in Newfoundland provided additional impetus to the development of the tourism industry. In 1979 the provincial government signed an agreement with the Department of Regional Economic Expansion to develop some projects in Newfoundland. Some of the money obtained from the agreement was used to reconstruct and enhance historical properties and tourist attractions. The establishment of national and provincial parks and historic sites, festivals, and celebrations of some special events also boosted the tourism industry. Special events and festivals like ‘come home year’ inspired those who had out-migrated from the island to return home.
In 1992 the economic destiny of Newfoundland and Labrador was changed when the Federal Government introduced a moratorium on commercial fishing due to significant decline in cod stocks in the Atlantic Ocean. The collapse of the fishing industry was devastating to the economy and families. The moratorium created high unemployment rates and out-migration, particularly among the youth, to other parts of Canada in search of jobs. Since the introduction of the moratorium, tourism has steadily become a more acceptable driver of transition and development in many small coastal communities that used to depend overwhelmingly on the fishing industry. As indicated earlier, the province has abundant and diverse natural and cultural resources for tourism development and its scenic beauty, often advertised in various marketing media, has been a major tourist attraction. Interestingly, in a 2009 study by Parks Canada, tourists ranked scenic beauty as their number one reason for visiting the province. Scenic beauty was also ranked the number one most enjoyable aspect of their vacation (Parks Canada, 2009a).
Newfoundland has often been marketed as a getaway destination, a place to connect with nature and learn about unique cultures. It is also a destination for relaxation and rush-free vacation. In more recent years, the island’s tourism industry has been growing steadily due to persistent government support and private sector investments. There are public sector institutions that work in partnership with businesses and communities to use tourism as a vehicle for socio-cultural, economic and sustainable development. The institutions have clearly stated missions, visions and/or guidelines, and goals for tourism growth and development. One of the institutions is DTCR which is located in St. John’s, the provincial capital. The vision of DTCR is to make Newfoundland and Labrador:
a province that is a tourism destination of choice, with superior and authentic visitor experiences, a robust cultural identity, natural and cultural resources that are protected and sustained, creativity in the arts that is fostered and recognized, cultural industries that are strong and vibrant, and an active, healthy population participating in physical activity, recreation and sport at all levels for quality of life and improved health (DTCR, 2013).
DTCR’s vision underscores the need to protect and preserve cultural and natural resources on which the tourism industry depends. The main goal of DTCR is to provide tourists with a unique, quality visitor experience. It is encouraging that DTCR works to promote and sustain the unique cultures and natural beauty of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador (HNL), also located in St. John’s, has a vision similar to that of DTCR. HNL’s Vision 2020 document introduced in 2012 outlines its strategies to increase tourist visitation by 2020 (HNL, 2012). The seven strategies outlined are:
1. Private Public Leadership – A Partnership for Growth & Development
2. Sustainable Transportation Network – A Transportation Strategy to Grow Our Industry
3. Market Intelligence and Research Strategy – A Framework for Accessible & Timely Research
4. Product Development – Delivering Strategic & Sustainable Traveler Experiences
5. Tourism Technology – Strengthening Our Information & Communications Technology
6. Marketing Our Brand – Building on the Success of Our Creative Marketing Campaign
7. Developing Our Workforce – Growing Our People for a Dynamic Industry
Another establishment that contributes to the growth and development of the tourism industry in Newfoundland and Labrador is Parks Canada. Parks Canada manages the Gros Morne National Park (GMNP) in Western Newfoundland. The GMNP Management Plan and the Canadian Parks Act guide and regulate tourism development in GMNP. The plan highlights the obligations that Parks Canada and GMNP have to protect the natural environment. It partially states, ‘Gros Morne protects for all time the ecological integrity of the Western Newfoundland Highlands natural region and an eastern portion of the St. Laurence Lowlands natural region’ (Parks Canada, 2009b). In view of the fact that GMNP has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, Parks Canada must abide by the regulations set by UNESCO for sustainable development:
World Heritage properties may support a variety of ongoing and proposed uses that are ecologically and culturally sustainable. The State Party and partners must ensure that such sustainable use does not adversely impact the outstanding universal value, integrity and/or authenticity of the property. Furthermore, any uses should be ecologically and culturally sustainable (UNESCO, 2012).
 
The quotation above underlines Parks Canada’s and GMNP’s position on sustainable development and what other stakeholders should do. GMNP is a nature-based tourist attraction that thrives on its scenery and natural resources comprising water bodies, diverse plant and animal species, and geological formations that are millions of years old. These resources have to be used in ways that would not deprive future generations of the opportunity to enjoy the same resources. All stakeholders should, therefore, work in partnership with UNESCO to protect and preserve the ecological integrity of GMNP and the communities that benefit directly or indirectly from it.
Western Newfoundland Destination Management Organization (WNDMO) plays a major role in advertising and marketing tourism in Western Newfoundland (WNDMO, 2013). Its marketing strategy underscores the importance of tourist attractions in four geographic areas, namely the Northern Peninsula, Gros Morne National Park (GMNP), Humber Valley, and Southwest Coast (Figure 2). Together, the four areas cover a distance of over 700km between L’Anse aux Meadows located at the tip of the Northern Peninsula and Channel-Port aux Basques located on the Southwest Coast (Figure 3).

 

 
Figure 2 WNDMO Geographic and Marketing Areas
Map courtesy: WNDMO

 

 

Figure 3 Major Communities of Newfoundland and Labrador

Source: Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage, 2013c

 

L’Anse aux Meadows, the second of the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Newfoundland, boasts the first European and Viking settlement in North America in about 1000 AD, a replica of a Viking ship, and seasonal icebergs that attract tourists and visitors from all parts of Canada and the world to the Northern Peninsula (Figures 4). From the GMNP area to Channel-Port aux Basques in the Southwest Coast area tourists and visitors usually engage in activities such as hiking, fishing, hunting, boat and bus tours, golfing, zip lining, and visits to museums, interpretation centers, churches, pools, lighthouses, historic and heritage sites, craft shops and insectarium. Figure 5 and Figure 6 show some of the natural and cultural attractions and sites in the GMNP, Humber Valley and Southwest Coast destination management areas of WNDMO. Some tourists and visitors also participate in or enjoy several festivals and other cultural events organized regularly in all the four destination management areas (WNDMO, 2013).

 

 
Figure 4 Some Tourist Attractions on the Northern Peninsula
Photos courtesy: WNDMO

  

 
Figure 5 Some Tourist Attractions in the GMNP and Humber Valley Areas

Photos courtesy: WNDMO

 

 

Figure 6 Some Tourist Attractions in the Southwest Coast Area

Photos courtesy: WNDMO

 

In the past two decades the concept of sustainable tourism has become a catchword in many coastal communities in Western Newfoundland seeking to
achieve harmony in socio-cultural and environmentally-friendly development. Sustainable tourism is perceived as a vehicle for decreasing outmigration and unemployment, generating more revenue, and sustaining coastal communities whose economies were dependent on the fishing industry before the introduction of the moratorium on commercial fishing in 1992. The owner of Tuckamore Lodge located on the Northern Peninsula endorses this notion and demonstrates how a lodging facility could be operated to achieve the goals of sustainable tourism including efficient and cost effective management of both natural and cultural resources to benefit present and future tourists. The mission and objectives of the Gros Morne Institute for Sustainable Tourism (GMIST), located in the GMNP area, also underscore these intergenerational values and principles of sustainable tourism development (Addo, 2010; GMIST, 2013).
Some recent statistics substantiate the positive socio-economic impacts of tourism on Newfound-land’s economy. For example, in 1997 when John Cabot’s replica ship arrived in Newfoundland it was estimated that about 69,000 tourists visited the island and spent $51 million dollars (Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage, 2013d). It was also reported in The Telegram newspaper on 22nd February, 2013 that the province’s tourism industry generated over $1 billion in revenue in 2011 (MacEachern, 2013). On the Northern Peninsula alone, the tourism industry generated about $54,800,000 and created jobs for 1,590 workers compared with 390 workers in 1992 (Red Ochre Regional Board Inc., 2012). The need for sustainable tourism in Newfoundland is therefore indisputable.
The significance of cultural and natural attractions, particularly GMNP, to sustainable tourism in Western Newfoundland was clearly highlighted in a direct correspondence that one of the authors had with an official of DTCR:
Newfoundland and Labrador is a tourism destination positioned on its cultural and natural environment and known for its landscapes and seascapes. GMNP is the most internationally recognized tourism icon in the province and is a major travel generator for non-resident visitation. GMNP attracted 192,600 visitors between June and October 2013, 6% higher than the number recorded during 2012 and 11% higher than the number of visitors reported during 2009. The average annual increase over the last five years is approximately 2% a year. In addition, the recent exit survey (2011) implemented by the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation indicates that the Gros Morne area attracted one quarter (23%) of all non-resident visitors to the province and one half (51%) of the non-resident visitors who travelled to the province specifically for vacation/pleasure purposes. On an annual basis, roofed accommodations in Economic Zone 7 (Gros Morne area) accounted for 54,888 room night sales and $6.3 million in room revenue during 2012 representing 4% (each) of the provincial totals respectively. In addition room night sales and room revenue in Gros Morne accounted for one fifth (21%) of the total attributed to the Western region. (Direct communication with an official of DTCR, Tourism Research Division).
Table 1 provides some statistical information about the total monthly traffic that passed through and/or went to GMNP and the total number of visitors recorded from June to October each year between 2009 and 2013. Both the average based and previous year based data indicate steady increases in the total monthly traffic and total number of visitors for the entire five year period. Most visitors visited the park in summer in the operational months of July, August and September.

 

 

Table 1 Total Monthly Traffic and Number of Visitors to GMNP: 2009-2013

Note: Numbers for annual visitation are rounded; the figures in the growth/loss column are percentage changes between the current year figures for 2013 and the average figures for the previous years, 2009-2012

Source: DTCR

 

The traffic flow and visitors (Table 1) included cruise ship passengers who travelled from the port city of Corner Brook on tour buses or in rental vehicles. Tourist activities in GMNP included hiking and boat tours on the
Western Brook Pond. As part of the land extension activities of the cruise ships, some of the passengers went shopping and visited churches, a museum and the City Hall in the downtown area of Corner Brook. Occasionally, city and CBPC officials and entertainment groups welcomed cruise passengers to the city at the port. Among the cruise ships that have called at the Port of Corner Brook are Queen Mary 2 (Cunard Line), Queen Elizabeth 2 (Cunard Line), Maasdam (Holland America), Quest for Adventure (Saga), Norwegian Gem (Norwegian Cruise Line, NCL), Seabourn Sojourn (Seabourn), Norwegian Dawn (NCL), Regatta (Oceania), Emerald Princess (Princess), MSC Poesia 1 (MSC Cruise Line)and Brilliance of the Seas (Caribbean). Figure 7 shows three of the cruise ships at the port and some of the tourist attractions in the vicinity of Corner Brook and the region.

 

 

Figure 7 Cruise Ships at Corner Brook Port and Some Tourist Attractions in the Area

Photos courtesy: CBPC

 

Table 2 highlights the economic and socio-cultural importance of national historic sites to the tourism industry at Port au Choix and L’Anse aux Meadows, both located on the Northern Peninsula, and Red Bay located on the southern edge of Labrador across the Strait of Belle Isle from Newfoundland (Figure 2). Port au Choix showcases fascinating coastal landforms (Figure 4), archaeological excavations and artifacts of four ancient cultures, namely the Maritime Archaic Indians, Dorset Paleo-Eskimo, Groswater Paleo-Eskimo, and Recent Indians and boasts a French Rooms Cultural Centre that offers visitors and tourists an opportunity to learn about the French fishermen who fished in the region. The Red Bay National Historic Site also boasts some natural wonders and cultural heritage. The most important attraction is the Red Bay Basque Whaling Station, the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Labrador, the third in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the seventeenth in Canada (Parks Canada, 2013).

 


Table 2 Visitations to National Historic Sites: 2009-2013

Note: Port au Choix National Historic Site operated 3 weeks less in 2013 than in 2012; Red Bay received more cruise ships with large numbers in 2013. The figures in the growth/loss column are percentage changes between the current year figures (2013) and the average figures of the previous years (2009-2012)

Source: DTCR

 

An important tourist facility in the Humber Valley area near Corner Brook and the Bay of Islands is Marble Mounting Ski Resort. As Table 3 indicates, in winter the resort becomes a busy facility attracting international skiers and visitors mostly from Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and USA; domestic tourists and visitors from other parts of Newfoundland and Labrador; the remaining Atlantic provinces of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (Figure 2); and the rest of Canada. Western Newfoundland’s strong ancestral links with France and Great Britain date as far back as the exploration days of John Cabot and Captain James Cook in the 16
th and 18th centuries respectively (Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage, 2013b).
Tourist sites on the west coast, including the Bay of Islands and the beaches and landforms in the southwest coastal region of the Bay St. George and Port au Port peninsula, attract many visitors and tourists in summer. Camping is a common tourist and visitor activity in all parts of Western Newfoundland in summer. Table 4 provides some statistical data on camping and visitation to some of the tourist sites and attractions between 2009 and 31st October, 2013. Although the average year based and previous year based figures were negative for the visitor and discovery centers, pools and total campgrounds the total figures for the four year period (2009-2012) were steady.

 

 
Table 3 Marble Mountain Skier Statistics: 2005/2006-2012/2013
Note: ***Included Throughout (*** are Authors’ choice to replace the words in the table)
Sources: DTCR; Marble Mountain Development Corporation

 

 

Table 4 Visits to Tourist Facilities, Camping and Tours (2009-2013)

Note: The figures in the growth/loss column are percentage changes between the current year figures (2013) and the average figures of the previous years (2009-2012). n/a: not available (at the time of submitting paper). Source: DTCR

 

The tourism industry in Newfoundland is characterized by high cost of travel to and from the island and high cost of intra-island transportation. Despite these challenges, the socio-economic, cultural and environmental benefits of the industry cannot be underestimated. Tourism is gradually becoming a year-long and more profitable industry (Addo, 2010; Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, 2010). It is against the backdrop of tourism in Western Newfoundland presented in this section, and the nature and scope of tourism and its potential for further growth in the three coastal communities
of Port au Port, Lark Harbour and Sally’s Cove discussed in section four that conventional onshore-to-offshore oil exploration and drilling, and unconventional onshore oil exploration and drilling (i.e., fracking) are discussed in section five.
4 Tourism and Tourism Potential in the Three Coastal Communities
The importance of tourism in the community of Port au Port is often discussed in relation to the Bay St. George area. The area has many small communities and geographic attractions including the Port au Port Peninsula. It is an interesting and important tourist destination because of its natural beauty and unique cultures. First Nations have lived in the Bay St. George area since the 17th and 18th centuries (Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage, 2013e). In the 19th century, France had fishing privileges in Newfoundland and made Port au Port its main residential community. For this reason, French was once the only spoken language in the community. French is still spoken in the community and this tradition is worth preserving and marketing as a cultural attraction. In the early 1940s the United States of America (USA) constructed the Ernest Harmon Air Force military base in Stephenville (Figure 3), the hub of the Bay St. George area. Although some of the spiritual and traditional practices of living from the land disappeared after the arrival of the Americans, the community is still worth visiting for cultural experiences with the existing First Nations. The three unique historical attractions in the Bay St. George area (i.e., the native traditions of the First Nations, the American presence and impacts, and the French community) could be marketed together to boost tourism in the area.
In addition to having the potential to boost tourism in the Bay St. George area using the three unique attractions, there is a need to effectively organize and market other cultural attractions on the Port au Port Peninsula. Some of the communities on the peninsula regularly celebrate cultural festivals that feature traditional music composed and recorded by local artists. For example, ‘Felix and Fromanger’, is a well-known local musical group that performs at some of the local festivals and sometimes one of the band members participates in musical events in other communities. The group has produced and released some musical compact discs (CDs). A local artist who has singularly made enormous contributions to traditional songs and song writing is Emile Benoit.
In recent years there have been vigorous attempts to preserve the aboriginal heritage in the Bay St. George area. Flat Bay, a community that has the most native people than any other community in the area, has its own native band. Numerous sweat lodges are located in the community where the band chief resides. A sweat lodge is a spiritual place used by the native people for a traditional ceremony. Local drumming takes place once a week in Flat Bay and other communities in the Bay St. George area. Each summer, Flat Bay celebrates Powwow, a local aboriginal heritage. Tribes from Nova Scotia and Conne River, Newfoundland participate in this event. The number of attendees who are mostly same-day visitors has been increasing from year to year.
An opportunity always exists for visitors and tourists to have authentic cultural experiences on the Port au Port Peninsula. They can learn about the community’s culture and heritage by visiting museums or taking part in the festivals. The festivals provide visitors and tourists a unique opportunity to listen to a distinct dialect in songs, and dance with and talk to the friendly locals. Sometimes a visitor may even think some locals are French when in actual fact they do not speak French but have French accent. Visitors and tourists also have the opportunity to see the homes, military hangers and bunkers of the old American Harmon base in the region.
It is necessary to preserve the culture and heritage of the communities on the Port au Port Peninsula and other coastal communities in the Bay St. George area.
There are few places in Newfoundland that have aboriginal people and French communities with American influence. The communities in the Bay St. George area provide visitors and tourists the opportunity to experience Newfoundland’s history, culture and heritage. Most of the local people in the area are elderly and have invaluable knowledge about the traditional cultures and heritage that need to be preserved and marketed as tourist products. The youth must learn from the elderly and the cultural resources in the communities have to be effectively preserved and used to promote sustainable cultural tourism. The local communities could look for supplementary support for sustainable cultural/heritage tourism from institutions like UNESCO, HNL and DTCR.
Lark Harbour is also a small coastal community located on the beautiful rugged coastline of Western Newfoundland. It is part of the beautiful Bay of Islands (Figures 5 and 7). Visitors and tourists who come to the community are generally outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy nature and hiking trails which are the main attractions in the community. The hiking trails hug the coastline and allow visitors and tourists to breathe fresh air and connect with nature. Lark Harbour’s quaint nature and location are often unknown to some potential visitors and tourists. Apart from the Lark Harbour Multi-Purpose Trail Festival which takes place each summer, the community does not effectively advertise and market other tourist products in order to attract more visitors and tourists as it is done for the GMNP area. Consequently, most of its visitors are same-day travelers from nearby communities in Western Newfoundland.
Sally’s Cove is an enclave community in the GMNP area (Figures 2 and 3). The importance of Sally’s Cove as a tourist destination is directly linked with GMNP, the main tourist attraction in Western Newfoundland which was established by the Federal Government in 1973 to preserve its natural beauty and history, and to protect it from human destruction. The establishment was also meant to conserve and protect native species, and to provide visitors and tourists with a wilderness experience. The two main reasons for the designation of GMNP as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 were its natural beauty, and its contribution to understanding the earth through its outstanding geological features. The designation is extremely important to Sally’s Cove and Western Newfoundland because GMNP is on the same UNESCO list as the pyramids in Egypt and the Great Wall of China.
Many international and domestic tourists who visit Sally’s Cove also visit GMNP since its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site to experience nature and learn about its unique cultural and natural resources. Hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, camping, bird watching, interpretative activities and facilities are common attractions in the vicinity of Sally’s Cove and GMNP. Visitation to the park and local businesses in and around Sally’s Cove sustain tourism and local economies. As noted in the preceding section, federally accredited national historic sites in the region such as Port au Choix National Historic Site, L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, and Red Bay National Historic Site in southern Labrador boost visitation to GMNP and local communities.
In a 2009 Parks Canada visitor survey, the number one reason given by tourists who visited GMNP was the ‘beauty, scenery, nature, wildlife, and sightseeing’ it provided. Other reasons given by tourists were to relax, spend time with family, enjoy some of the good reputation, and go on boat tours. In 2009, tourist expenditure in the GMNP region was estimated to be $37.6 million while resident and non-resident visitors generated an estimated amount of $107.5 million (Parks Canada, 2009a). These statistics partly underscore the positive socio-economic impacts of GMNP on tourism and the communities in the area including Sally’s Cove.
5 Oil Production in Newfoundland and Fracking on the West Coast
The importance of oil and gas to the provincial economy and particularly to individual households and consumers in small, coastal and remote communities cannot be underestimated. The growth and development of the oil industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, like those of the tourism industry, are influenced by many statutory provisions, regulations and roles of national/federal, provincial and regional institutions or establishments. The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) is a federal and provincial establishment mandated ‘to interpret and apply the provisions of the Atlantic Accord and the Atlantic Accord Implementation Acts to all activities of operators in the Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area; and, to oversee operator compliance with those statutory provisions’ (C-NLOPB, 2013). The regulatory mandates are related to safety, environmental protection, resource management (land tenure, and maximum hydrocarbon recovery and value), and industrial or employment benefits to Newfoundland and Labrado
International Journal of Marine Science
• Volume 4
View Options
. PDF(1449KB)
. FPDF
. HTML
. Online fPDF
Associated material
. Readers' comments
Other articles by authors
. Wendy BRAKE
. Edward ADDO
Related articles
. Sustainable tourism
. ‘Fracking’
. Oil production
. Coastal communities
. Newfoundland and Labrador
Tools
. Email to a friend
. Post a comment