Access and Transportation
Access and transportation challenges continue to be a major strategic priority for the growth of the tourism industry. While Hospitality NL considers all the issues facing the industry under the umbrella of access and transportation important, our specific areas of focus within this policy priority are constantly shifting. As gains are made in certain areas, other issues make their way to the forefront of our advocacy efforts.
Travel to, from, and around the province, whether by sea, air, or road is constrained by issues of affordability, capacity, infrastructure and quality. In order to continue to develop a vibrant and sustainable tourism industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, our provincial transportation system must serve as a conduit of growth offering travellers accessible, affordable, and reliable service that meets their evolving needs. To address identified challenges, Hospitality NL advocates in several key areas:
Areas of focused advocacy: sustained funding for long-term planning, affordability for customers, improved customer service and communications.
Hospitality NL has long advocated the need for investment in Marine Atlantic and as a direct result of Hospitality NL’s continued and effective advocacy strategy, the Government of Canada, in 2010, committed over $700 million to this vital ferry service to make much needed improvements to its fleet, infrastructure and customer service delivery. This significant investment has proven pivotal in the process of building the service into a much more reliable, efficient and effective transportation supplier.
The new vessels, the MV Highlanders and MV Blue Puttees were introduced into MAI’s fleet in 2011 replacing the aging MV Caribou and MV Joseph and Clara Smallwood and increasing Marine Atlantic’s capacity enabling them to better meet passenger demands as outlined in a Passenger Amenities study completed by Hospitality NL in 2008.
The ever-increasing cost to MAI users is very concerning. Passenger traffic has declined in each of the last few years, and has been on a downward trend since 2002. Non-resident automobile visitors, who use Marine Atlantic Inc. as the primary transportation supplier, are an important market segment for our industry and we cannot afford to lose ground in this significant market. Hospitality NL is further concerned about the increasing costs for commercial traffic as Marine Atlantic Inc. provides a link for operators to obtain the goods and services required to meet the needs of travelers.
Hospitality NL is calling for funding to be set at appropriate levels over an extended period of time to provide a stable base that enables longer-term planning, allows for pricing that does not erode the level of service or deter travellers and is sufficient to drive continuous improvement and cost efficiency in the service. Marine Atlantic Inc., a primary gateway for growing inbound tourism, is an essential link not only for the future growth and development of the tourism industry but also for all residents and industries. It is a critical enabler of private industry investment and with a solid commitment to sufficient, sustained funding, Marine Atlantic Inc. can help drive job creation and economic diversity throughout Atlantic Canada.
NL will continue to work closely with tourism stakeholders to ensure this vital link proves to be a safe, reliable mode of transportation that meets the evolving needs of travellers.
Provincial Ferry System
Areas of focused advocacy: capacity, infrastructure, reservation system, enhanced tourism information and amenities, scheduling and customer service.
To fulfill Newfoundland and Labrador’s economic potential from tourism, it is essential that transportation infrastructure is at a standard that can sustain existing traveller needs and support future growth. A significant coordinated effort from all sectors of government and industry is required to support the strategic development of our ferry services. Hospitality NL recognizes that provincial ferry services require investment in areas including fleet renewal, customer service, reservation system, highway and directional signage at and towards terminals, along with on-board tourism information availability.
While ferry vessel replacement, refit work and improvements to marine terminals and wharfs have occurred in recent years, work remains to be done and Hospitality NL is committed to working with regional and government partner agencies including the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation and Transportation and Works to ensure the needs of the tourism industry are considered when addressing provincial ferry challenges.
Highway Signage / Wayfinding / Navigational Initiatives
Areas of focused advocacy: development of a policy that uses components of the TODS (Tourist-Oriented Directional Signage) model yet considers the unique nature and geography of NL, wayfinding and directional signage as well as GPS coordinating and alleviation of cost burden to operators.
As of June 8th, 2009, the province started enforcing the highway signage regulations, which will remain in effect until such time as a new Tourist-Oriented Directional Signage policy is developed and implemented. Hospitality NL is supportive of a new signage policy that better equips travellers with the information necessary to navigate throughout the province. A signage system similar to those used in other parts of the world would be most conducive in this province as it is a proven system that would be familiar to those travelling. However, Hospitality NL is cognizant of tourism operators and residents desire to maintain the uniqueness that has made this province such a successful tourism destination and as such, believes a TODS model that takes the unique nature and geography of Newfoundland and Labrador into consideration will yield the most success.
Hospitality NL is a part of the advisory committee that will develop the new signage regulations and policy and establish implementation procedures and processes. Throughout the enforcement of the existing policy and the development of the new policy, Hospitality NL will continue to engage with tourism operators for their input and work closely with government officials to discuss the approach for developing, communicating and implementing the new policy, addressing other signage challenges (i.e. directional signage, provincial site/park signage, etc.) and the proposed cost to operators.
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