Rocky Harbour Mayor Tony Major said everyone around his town is disappointed that two major tourist operations — the Ocean View Hotel and BonTours — won’t open this summer.
He said the two are big sources of income for businesses and the town.
“And for all the people that’s working in the town through those businesses, all those people are impacted by the lack of tourist trade.
“It’s not good to see the loss of the tourist traffic through our community.”
Coming into the middle of July, Rocky Harbour should be booming with tourist activity, but Major said that’s not the case.
“We’re just not seeing very many people in the area.”
When he’s out around he’s only seeing a few people who are not local, and he saidt cabins in the area aren’t full and neither are the campgrounds.
There does seem to be more activity on the weekends, but that may not be enough.
“Operators need something for five days of the week, not just the two days on the weekends. It’s a job to make a go of it on just two days out of seven.”
Major said a lot of businesses had been looking at picking up business with staycations, but some are reporting that’s changed since the opening of the Atlantic travel bubble.
“Once we opened up the bubble and allowed more people to come in, they felt a little bit wary of actually travelling, knowing full well that we had people from other parts of Canada in moving around our province, as well, that they might come in contact with.”
Tanya Osmond is hearing the same thing.
Osmond is the town manager of Woody Point on the south side of Bonne Bay. She said tourism operators in the area have told her that when the province opened the Atlantic bubble, it impacted them negatively.
A lot of people had booked staycations, she said, “because they were feeling safe moving around Newfoundland.”
But with the bubble open and people seeing licence plates from outside the region, she said people are concerned.
“And as a result, our residents have cancelled their bookings. So, even though they might get some traffic from Atlantic Canada, the fact is they’ve caused a disruption in the other aspect.”
For the most part things are open in the town, and Osmond said there is quite a bit of activity on the waterfront in the afternoons — especially on the weekends.
“Of course, our accommodations aren’t full and, yes, it’s slowed down a lot, but I think most people are more concerned about their safety, even the business owners.”
Osmond said seeing operations like those on the north side of Bonne Bay not open is disappointing, as fewer attractions mean fewers people overall. But the experience in Woody Point is different in relation to the north side of the bay and the traffic from things like bus tours that go through the Ocean View Hotel and BonTours don’t really affect the town’s economy.
“The ferry not being on impacts us a little bit because we’re not getting the same people coming across.”
Osmond said the full impact of COVID-19 on tourism really won’t be known until at least the end of July as businesses are still opening.
Back in Rocky Harbour, Major is just hoping all the businesses in area are going to be able to get through the season and that there will be a return to normal or a new normal next spring.
“Hopefully they’re availing of all the federal government funding that’s put out there for business to be able to avail of, and hopefully their workers are availing of the funding that the federal and provincial governments got put in place.”