By now everyone has seen the beautiful provincial tourism advertisements. Don’t they make you proud to be a Newfoundland and Labradorian? Marketing the province with this award winning campaign has proven to be an excellent investment by the government. We are the envy of other provinces. In 2012 the tourism industry joined the billion dollar club generating $1 billion in tourism revenues. The tourism industry continues to be a major contributor to the provincial economy and it is on pace to generate $1.6 billion in revenues by 2020. A growing tourism industry has far reaching benefits to the residents of the province and the business community as a whole.
504,000 visitors descended on the province last year essentially doubling the population, if only for a short time! This influx of visitors and their desire to breathe in the fresh salt air has seen a number of tourism businesses open and expand. In St. John’s alone, from 2012-2015 approximately $150 million in hotel construction is to take place. This means hundreds of jobs in the trades to build the properties, leading to hundreds more in the hospitality business to staff the hotels.
To put this in context, think about your holiday time or when you travel on business. You dine, use taxis or rent a car, go to museums and galleries, attend theatre, plays, concerts, shop, hike, go to spas, golf, boat, kayak, etc. When you travel on business you may arrive a day or two early and take in the sights especially if it is a destination where you have never been. You leave a trail of receipts. It is no different for those that travel here and we are happy to report the tourism industry’s bottom line is growing.
80% of all visitors arrive to the province through the St. John’s International Airport. The more visitors the better, as the increase in traffic makes the airlines take a look at their routes and put larger aircrafts on the route or increase the frequencies of flights. This allows for more competition and it means greater technologies and better services at the airport. Renovations are underway at the St. John’s International Airport and a CAT3 instrumentation system is being installed to prevent the cancellation of flights due to poor visibility during foggy season. This also bodes well for the residents of this province, giving us greater access off the island.
As the sales and marketing organization for the greater St. John’s area, Destination St. John’s and its industry partners are delighted that a very exciting project is underway. The St. John’s Convention Centre (SJCC) is expanding. In 2009 a study was conducted by PKF Consultants and it reinforced the assertion that the expansion to the SJCC is good for the entire province. Newfoundland and Labrador is on the travel bucket list for many and Associations get a greater attendance record when the conference is held in St. John’s. Destination St. John’s delegate surveys show that over 40% of delegates extend their stay and close to 60% travel throughout the Province. Annually, St. John’s sees about 23,000 conference delegates. The average spend of a delegate is about $2200, so that revenue can have a great impact on rural communities.
I’ve just touched on a few areas where the tentacles of tourism have a positive impact on our communities and services. When you have 500,000 more mouths to feed, house and entertain, the measure of impact is immense. So the next time you stop to help a visitor find their way, you may also want to thank them for choosing to visit Newfoundland and Labrador. The decision to travel here has contributed to the vitality of the economy and to the employment of 17,500 residents that work in the tourism sector. Be a tourist in your own province. The province is rich with exceptional experiences. You’ll have a great holiday and in turn you help your communities thrive. And one last plea, if you have an opportunity to host a meeting or event in Newfoundland and Labrador, please do, and we can help. Destination St. John’s offers complimentary services to search out hotels, facilities and services for organizing committees and meeting planners. So give the Sales Manager, Lisa Martin-Davis a call to learn more, 1-877-739-8899.
Rhonda Hutton, Director of Marketing with Destination St. John’s, started her 24 year career in tourism and hospitality with Canadian Pacific Hotels in Alberta and Ontario before returning to St. John’s in 1997 where she worked in sales at the then CP, Hotel Newfoundland . She held the General Manager’s position with Spirit of Newfoundland for three years before the hotel calling resurfaced and she joined the team at the Comfort Inn Airport as General Manager. She welcomed the once in a lifetime opportunity and accepted the role of Special Events Manager with the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, a contributing partner with the 2010 Winter Olympics. Rhonda joined the Destination St. John’s team in March, 2011 to build a new destination brand and be a part of an exceptional sales and marketing team who has the privilege to market this special place to the world.