Wi-fi is certainly a must for today’s traveler. We are more connected than ever. If we are not providing such connectivity, not only are we impacting the experience of the current visitor, we are losing a valuable marketing tool to promote our region to gain new visitors and also encourage repeat visits.
This past summer, when I visited Olbia on the island of Sardinia, Italy I took the bus to the shopping centre on the outskirts of Town. This mall called “auchan” had designated “Wi-fi Area Gratuito” (free wifi hot spots) clearly designated to sit and connect. I was greatly impressed and stopped to use this added service.
Additionally, the sign had a bar code to scan which notes the arrival of the app outlining the shops and service offering at the shopping centre. As society becomes more and more connected, we need to also move in that direction where we use technology.
I departed from Deer Lake Regional Airport. It offers free wi-fi, which is very important to me as a traveller. I would like to see free (no log-in) wi-fi at all airports in Newfoundland & Labrador and more public spaces.
Some of our local businesses on the Great Northern Peninsula have implemented such an offering. I remember this summer in Conche, a community without cellular coverage, provided me the opportunity to use free wi-fi at the Bits n’ Pieces Cafe or The French Shore Interpretation Centre as a means to stay connected and promote the region. As well, a recent sign clearly marked that the Daily Catch Restaurant in St. Lunaire-Griquet also offers this free service. One of the early adopters of this free service was The Dark Tickle Company also in St. Lunaire-Griquet.
Regions that lack cellular coverage and have access to Broadband Internet especially are driven to provide such a free service to customers. However, even in cellular regions visitors are quite happy to switch to free wi-fi to reduce their data roaming usage, which comes with a high fee. I encourage businesses, Municipalities to adapt and create more wi-fi around their place of business and in public space as a means to increase the local and visitor experience on the Great Northern Peninsula. This is a low-cost step to ensuring we build stronger, more vibrant economies.
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White North NDP Innovation, Business & Rural Development critic
Deer Lake Regional Airport is the gateway for visitors travelling the Great Northern Peninsula. This summer was record-breaking registering more than 40,000 passengers in both July and August. Last year more than 300,000 passengers passed through Deer Lake Airport earning it the record of the 4th busiest airport in Atlantic Canada.
While waiting for my bags at the carousel, I peered up at the wall and was pleased to see Parks Canada advertising L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site. It got me thinking about how airports are gateways to promote local business and the tourism industry. We need to move past static signage and use more dynamic means of promotion – interactive screens.
In the 21st century we have the ability to utilize technology and what better place than when waiting for baggage to come, sometimes 15-30 minutes of a captured market. Deer Lake Airport could have five large screens promoting distinctly the five economic regions: Tip of Great Northern Peninsula, Gros Morne National Park area, Corner Brook/HV, Stephenville & Port au Port, and the Southwest Coast. This was a message I relayed to Jamie Schwartz, CEO of Deer Lake Airport.
This is an opportunity to promote business, local attractions, events and images of landscapes and natural areas via short clips or imagery. This is what visitors really want. A partnership should be struck with Department of Tourism, Culture & Recreation; Department of Innovation, Business & Rural Development; Airport Authority; Western DMO and local industry stakeholders to add technology and pilot a project.
The screens and other static displays should have bar codes to provide further information by using tablet or mobile devices. This is being pursued by many countries in Europe. If we want to grow the tourism industry, we as well need to get with the technological times.
We have so much potential to use our best assets to drive tourism, extend the stay of visitors and wanting them to come back for another stay before they even leave the airport on their current visit. These are simple matters that does not have a huge cost attached and the reward – significant.
Let’s reach Vision 2020 by 2018! It can be done if we put our creative ideas into actions.
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North NDP Tourism, Culture & Recreation critic
- Tourism Season Extended with Gros Morne Fall Fest & Craft Fair (liveruralnl.com)
- Scenic Hay Cove – Your Northern Coffee Experience (liveruralnl.com)
L’Anse aux Meadows has a population under 30 – although not by years of age but by people. It is a quaint little community that is truly nestled at the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. It is home to Norstead – Viking Village and Port of Trade, the Norseman Restaurant (Fine Dining) and the Gaia Art Gallery, as well a World UNESCO Heritage Site that was incorporated in 1978.
During the winter, the traffic is much less and the town is even quieter. As we drove around a community of less than 30 we say some snow hardened and clinging to rocks, it could not possibly be an iceberg at this time of year.
The shed depicted below, no doubt that of a fisherman as the splitting table is still present on the private wharf. It is nice to see these structures maintained. They become less and less around our shorelines as storms have wreaked havoc on many causing much hardship. Also, there is an impressive rack of antlers over the door.
L’Anse aux Meadows is not a question of if I visit, but when and how? There are cruise ships that dock at the wharf with planned excursions, access by car and air (St. Anthony Airport or Deer Lake Regional Airport). This place may be just what you need to truly live Rural.
Experience the Great Northern Peninsula –Christopher C. Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
- A Swiss, German and Rural Newfoundlander Re-united for the Holidays. (liveruralnl.com)