By: René J. Roy
SOUTHWEST COAST – In 2011, eight tourism operators between Stephenville and Port aux Basques came together and founded Tourism Southwest. Their goal was to institute a volunteer levy tax to their customers in order to help fund their marketing and product development.
Thanks to that little tax, the group has been able to support numerous organizations and businesses along the Southwest Coast, from the Stephenville Theatre Festival to the Rose Blanche Lighthouse.
Ruth Gale is currently serving as Chair.
“It’s not just about our little levy group and their accommodations, it’s about the whole region,” explained Gale via telephone interview.
“We are very much concentrated on making sure that the Southwest Coast is properly marketed, and that we continue to develop our products.”
She pointed out that ATV tourism is something that is vital from Port aux Basques all the way up to Stephenville, even up to Corner Brook.
“It’s an activity that’s fun, it’s outdoors, and particularly now, with COVID, it’s an activity where people can be outside among nature’s wild beauty, basically.”
Gale says that the Southwest coast’s ATV tourism is heavily supported by the Atlantic Provinces, and the tourists that visit this region enjoy our trailways.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of people from Ontario and Quebec the last couple of years. It’s an adventure tourism industry that has huge potential, and Tourism Southwest is a group that’s championing it.”
Tourism Southwest has done extensive work over the last couple of years on the trails, such as cutting back heavy brush, beginning back in 2019. They also had grading done on the trails from Codroy Pond to the Chignic area and Riverview.
“Overall we’ve gotten some 70 to 75 kilometres from Stephenville Crossing to Port aux Basques properly cleared and graded,” said Gale. “Some of that area was tunneled with alders and brush, so we wanted that cleared for visibility and safety for the users of the trails.”
The Newfoundland T’Railway Council also re-decked bridges from Corner Brook to Port aux Basques just last year, adding to the safety and quality of the trails.
Tourism Southwest plans to erect signage along the trailway to aid tourists who might not know what way to turn at intersections.
“It’s all about enhancing and upgrading our trail to further our ATV tourism industry, which will help to sustain some of our businesses in the area.”