From Mike Lushington
A Future for Tourism? Premier Graham's recent announcement of significant funding for the development of tourism in Northern New Brunswick has generated considerable excitement. So it should have; tourism has been promoted as an avenue out of the poverty and depression of the area for the past number of years, but, hitherto, there has been a lack of the necessary funding. A serious and coordinated effort to determine the face of tourism has also been missing until now. Promise of funding sufficient to begin careful planning should be the catalyst to address the future of an industry that holds some promise for the area.
Proposals have ranged from the thoughtful, serious, and practical to the opposite end of the spectrum in recent weeks. I think that communities from the Acadian Peninsula through to the western end of the province have got to put aside concerns only for local pet projects and begin serious discussion and planning on developing an approach that will consider the region as an entity. In so doing, tourism promoters can look to integrating services, information, and advertising. Perhaps the first thing that is necessary is to accept what is unique about the North Shore and to promote that, rather than trying to find ways to offer second-rate imitations of what might exist elsewhere. We really do not need a Magic Mountain or a Disney World project, especially as we have no hope of ever being able to build one that could compete with the prototypes.
In realizing what is unique and attractive about the North Shore, we also have to consider whom we are primarily trying to attract, and what it is that our projected clientele is looking for. Weather is often a factor that people take into consideration about when and where they may want to travel; that suggests to me that, if we are going to promote our summertime activities, the promotion is going to have to be wrapped around a theme of escaping from the heat and congestion of life in mid-continent rather than one of heat, beaches, and sunshine. We know that tourists from Europe and, increasingly, from the United States, are looking for places that are relatively pristine; they want to be able to hike, to canoe, to kayak in areas that maintain some vestiges of wilderness, but that offer amenities such as good inns, hotels, and restaurants.Beaches such as we have in most of the area pale in comparison to those of other areas, but our geography most emphatically does not.
The Bay of Chaleur has recently been declared to be one of the thirty or so "Most Beautiful Bays in the World" and a conference is scheduled for the area this summer (I believe) to promote that fact. Recognition of the upper Restigouche in the Canadian Heritage Rivers System, The Important Bird Areas in the Restigouche Estuary and on Heron Island, Protected Natural Areas in the Jacquet River Gorge and adjacent to Mount Carleton Provincial Park, and even UNESCO's World Heritage Site (the Miguasha Fossil Museum) all suggest common themes that could, and should, be exploited.There are capable and knowledgeable people already at work in many of these areas, but, to date, they work in isolation. Some effort to bring them together not only promises to promote their own concerns, but to enhance those of others.
Properly done, this approach has significant promise for a future that has been one of potential to the present; that potential could well become the new reality.