High fuel prices jeopardize plans for an unprecedented tourist season in Newfoundland

The winding 100-kilometer road from the Trans-Canada Highway to Twillingate, Holland, is not usually used by casual tourists. Visitors to the colorful historic city of 2,000 that calls itself the “Iceberg Capital of the World” are what the tourism industry calls tourists.

And that’s exactly what Deborah Borden, owner of the Anchor Inn, is worried about as she watches her business’s costs skyrocket along with record fuel prices in recent months.

“Newfoundland is a very expensive destination,” she said. “But Twillingate in Newfoundland is an even more expensive destination because we are, as we say, at the end of the line.”

Borden relies on guests who make day trips or a few nights of vacation close to home during the tourist season to get half of her income.

The capital, St. John’s, is six hours away by car, and people visiting for a day or two might now think twice, Borden said.

“Therefore, if people now … say: “I can only go half the distance” … then we will always fall off the table.”

Twillingate, The Netherlands is known for its rustic charm and connection to the sea. Visitors from all corners of the globe have been a boon to the local economy since the cod fishery collapsed 30 years ago. (Chris O’Neill-Yates/CBC)

After a deficit in the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many tour operators in rural Newfoundland were hoping to recover their losses this summer. Last November, the provincial government declared 2022 the “Year of Homecoming” in an attempt to boost the tourism sector, which runs from May to September or October.

High fuel prices and surcharges have also driven up food delivery prices, meaning Borden has to make tough decisions about how much to increase menu prices.

For example, rapeseed oil has tripled in price, lettuce has risen in price by 30-35%, and scallops by 25%, she said. But forgoing a full price increase is impractical in such a price-sensitive market.

“You can’t eat a $12 plate of French fries. You cannot do this. And sometimes you have to make decisions about what’s actually in that salad. the price is where it is at least acceptable,” she said.

“You must always understand that you must value the person who pays, so it is not forbidden to eat in our establishment.”

Borden ended up raising menu prices by 10–15%.

“I think the visitor has a role to play in being patient with us, trying to understand that there is no money here.”

Deborah Borden owns several tourism businesses in Twillingate, The Netherlands, including Georgie’s restaurant at the Anchor Inn. Rising fuel costs to transport food to Twillingate, as well as surcharges, mean menu prices should also rise. (Garret Barry/CBC)

Barry Rogers employs 40 to 50 people at Iceberg Quest Tours in…

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