Some businesses of Newfoundland’s west coast, particularly those that rely on tourists, lost so much money this winter. That is why owners say the key to the coming summer season will be a combo of Canadian travel and local support.
“When Marble Mountain is open, we are full. That’s how it works here,” said Joe Dicks, owner of Marble Inn Resort across the street from the mountain.
Dicks shut down his hotel, restaurant, condos, and spa for most of the cold season because of mild temperatures and COVID health restrictions that delayed Marble Mountain’s opening date.
“We went from full last weekend to virtually nothing the weekend before that, and the weekend before that,” said Dicks, adding that his firm’s losses have been mounting.
Dicks says the only way he will recover and make up for losses that exceed $300,000 is if the Atlantic bubble opens, aircraft start landing at the Deer Lake Airport again, and tourists start thinking of his business and the Humber Valley area becomes a vacation destination again.
He provides kayak rentals and fishing tours in the summer months, and he has already had a few inquiries from the Atlantic Canadian region.
“It’s not about [having] just a restaurant but a restaurant scene. When you think about tourism, it’s not just renting kayaks and taking people fishing, it’s about an outdoor theme,” Dicks said.
“That’s what the region needs to do, is develop themes and then get out there and make this place a holiday destination.”
‘A foggy crystal ball at best’
16km west of Marble Mountain sits a long line of colorful chalets, located into the woods on the edges of Corner Brook.
Appalachian Chalets and RV owner Allan Kendall agree that tourists have to come and spend money on the west coast this summer so as for a business to flourish.
“It’s hard to plan. A crystal ball but it’s a foggy crystal ball at best,” Kendall said.
When N.L went into lockdown, Kendall lost so much of the east coast business and changed his business plan. He traded out tourists for rotational staff who were seeking to isolate, work and then snowmobile in their free time.
The restaurant, Wayward Spruce, has not done well due to the lockdowns and capacity restrictions. He additionally reduced chalet rental rates to help get through this winter.
“We’ve got that much invested in it now, we have to put our head’s down and get it done,” he said.
The City of Corner Brook provided local businesses a tax break in 2021, to help with all the COVID health restrictions, though Kendall says the maximum $1,000 break for up to 60 days was not much of assistance for him.
Kendall depends on the Atlantic bubble to make money this summer.
However, he is also pushing persons who live in Corner Brook and the surrounding area to eat at his restaurant and park their trailer at his RV park, due to the fact that summer tourism is so uncertain given the pandemic.