Eighteen years and counting. That’s how long I have been a part of the tourism industry. Here I am still loving every minute of it, operating with great certainty that I have indeed the best job in the entire world, as the CEO of the provincial tourism industry association, Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador.
Without a doubt, what has kept me in the tourism industry these past 18 years is the incredible network of innovative and hardworking tourism professionals that see the potential of tourism and commit to growing their businesses and living right here in Newfoundland and Labrador. Of the 2,500 tourism businesses in NL, 83per cent are small businesses, so it is not surprising that I have had the opportunity to collaborate and partner with incredibly talented and diverse entrepreneurs who are fueled by the passion they feel for this place and the possibilities they see in tourism.
The opportunities presented by this industry are endless. Tourism is a trillion-dollar global business that sees tourists spending $3 billion a day. This industry accounts for one in every 11 jobs worldwide, and has become one of the world’s fastest-growing industries. In Newfoundland and Labrador, tourism continues to grow and is one of the most sustainable and stable, revenue-generating industries in our province. Generating more than $1.1 billion dollars in annual spending, tourism offers a renewable resource and accounts for eight percent of total provincial jobs.
From preserving and promoting our cultural and natural history to ensuring a check mark next to a ‘bucket list’ item, tourism operators in NL are in love with what they do and it is reflected in the incredible experiences they provide. Being surrounded by innovation fuels further innovation and I believe the connections fostered throughout the provincial tourism industry are a key component to its success. The strength of partnerships and collaboration levels across Newfoundland and Labrador are second to none and often the envy of other industries as operators and stakeholders continually share ideas and explore new possibilities to ensure NL is a premiere destination of choice for travellers. Owner/operators do not face challenges alone but rather, group together to share lessons learned and address obstacles to business growth and development. The success realized is shared by many.
Being connected to such leaders is inspiring and I am proud these individuals are included among the diverse membership of organizations such as Hospitality NL and NLOWE. As I strive to advance their interests in my role at Hospitality NL, I am fortunate to be in the company of strong women leaders on the provincial and national tourism scene. From operating small businesses or chain hotels to chairing regional associations or national boards, talented women in leadership positions are driving tourism forward in a big way.
The value of tourism extends beyond tax revenue and the preservation and promotion of our cultural and natural history…and what keeps me in it is the very same thing that brings more than a half million non-resident visitors to this place each year…it is the people! And I encourage entrepreneurs across the province to embrace the opportunities offered by the tourism industry…Tourism Week is being celebrated this year from May 31 – June 6 and I invite all NLOWE members to join in the celebration!
Carol-Ann Gilliard, Chief Executive Officer of Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador
Carol-Ann Gilliard has been Chief Executive Officer of Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador since 2008. Having held senior management roles for nearly two decades, she has extensive experience in tourism strategic analysis, planning and implementation. Carol-Ann is the Chair of the Provincial and Territorial Tourism Industry Associations Committee and serves on the Board of Directors of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC). In her role with Hospitality NL, she also serves as the Chair of the Atlantic Canada Tourism Caucus and on numerous tourism and transportation committees.