Why NF Needs To Embrace Winter…Even More!
By Stephen Furlong
While people are typically planning or making trips down south this time of year, some die hard sled-fans that are starting to look at dates and destinations for snowmobiling. It’s a little different if you live in prime sled country, but if you need to factor in travel, time off work, family, and accommodations then it becomes a little like planning a vacation.
All over the country snowmobilers spend copious amounts of money traveling and experiencing various snowmobile destinations and taking in what winter has to offer. That’s not to mention the sheer expense of simply participating in the sport. Snowmobiling is a booming industry and those who are addicted are willing to shell out their hard earned cash to have the best experience they can find. So what does our province do to take advantage of this cash cow?… in my opinion… not very much, relatively speaking. Newfoundland and Labrador doesn’t have as much to offer in some categories of a vacation destination, but we do very well with a unique and interesting culture in a beautiful province that is becoming popular to visit. Our government has spent big dollars to market our province as a summer destination and over time it has done wonders for the tourism industry. I live on the Bonavista Peninsula and the seasonal rush of tourists goes from May into September and it is good to see. While there are some programs for the winter, I feel that the focus should now shift to match that of the summer season.
We have so much open country with towns, cities and communities spread out all over this 400,000+ square km province there’s plenty of variety for traveling snowmobilers. We have massive mountains with deep snow and amazing sights, trail systems and land marks on some of the oldest pathways in North America. If someone would spend $5,000 – $6,000 on a trip from New Brusnwick (for example) to Vegas for the 3rd time with their buddies to see the same things all over again, along with hordes of other people, why wouldn’t they consider a winter getaway in central or western Newfoundland or the Big Land where they can experience…
- Snowmobile tours
- Resettled communities
- War time plane crashes
- Breathtaking Fjord views
- Unique land formations (like the sink hole to name one)
- Huge mountains and deep powder
- Skiing and Snowboarding
- Traditional cuisine and great new Craft Beer Breweries
- Famous culture and live music scene
They would consider it… if it was marketed to them more, and perhaps nicely setup packages. It would also help if flights were reasonable and ferries were more dependable…
A few years back the “TearAlls” took a group of Scotsmen out snowmobiling in central NL. They loved it so much they came back the next year and we took them west. They have now been to other snowmobiling destinations all over the world and still make a yearly trip back to NL where one of them has his own sled. The point is if you come here and try it then it is impossible not to love it. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people here running businesses, or groups, or tours who work very hard to make the industry what it is today, I just feel like more should be done. I don’t particularly want to find all my secret play areas tracked up every time I go out, but I also feel like we have something special here and if we can share it with the rest of the country while supporting the economies of the smaller and more rural areas of the province then we should. We’ve recently built an access road that stretches all the way across the province through the country making way for our new utility lines. Instead of discouraging the use of this area, maybe the government could have made provisions to clearly and safely mark the trail of all directions and hazards in hopes of giving us a little extra for our tax dollars, Lord knows we will pay for it.
When I look at all the province has to offer and how the popularity has risen, I can’t help but feel like we are missing a little. We have hunters come from afar to pay big bucks on a helicopter ride into our woodlands for a guided hunting experience and trophy that will impress those back home. Surely a weekend stay in a resettled community in one of the oldest places in the country, or a trip into the mountains with neck deep powder and amazing views will attract the same level of interest. The experience and photos they bring home will surely impress. The industry here can cater to any level and budget. From a road-trip-ers sleeping cheap motels and living off leftovers to a high rollers with chopper rides, rented sleds, and full service accommodations, it is all right here, and there are people out there looking for it. I think it’s time we as a province step up our game, and instead of dreading winter and running away from it, we embrace this thing that happens EVERY year and find our own way to enjoy it and better support each other with it.