If, like me, you’ve ever lived outside the province of Newfoundland Labrador, then you’ve learned not to take this province’s beauty for granted. The shimmering seaside, the vast and mysterious ocean, the wildlife, the way of life and the people who live here: everything and everyone just seems a tad brighter and more colourful the further east you go. It’s not bragging in the least saying that this place is most spectacular when it comes to experiences offered, and word is getting out.
Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism’s marketing campaign 2020, ‘Find Yourself,’ earned prominent industry accolades not just locally but abroad as well. In fact ‘Find Yourself’ was recognized as one of the most successful tourism campaigns in the country in almost 15 years of promoting our Canadian tourism offerings to the world. Whether it’s the dancing dialect, the colourful clothes flapping on a cliff-side clothesline or the much celebrated Iceberg Alley images, the dollars just make sense when it comes to attracting come from aways or encouraging past liyvers to come home for a spell.
The tourism industry generates over $1.14 billion in visitor spending each year, and is responsible for over 20,000 jobs, representing 2,800 businesses thoughout Newfoundland and Labrador. That’s big business and a huge benefit for those who live here, but the real winners are the tourists themselves.
The stories are many when it comes to locals performing random acts of kindness, in fact The Globe and Mail captured one story in an article they ran in 2018, calling our kind ways an ‘epidemic.’
While walking on a trail near Signal Hill one visiting family from Ottawa who couldn’t secure a car rental ran into Alma. “Our teenagers hurried ahead, and as we lagged, admiring the scenery, two women in sunglasses and summer hiking gear stopped. They’d heard us discussing different routes; they asked if we’d like suggestions. They looked to be in their 40s, one blonde and one brunette, full of energy and both enthusiastic to share their local expertise. We listened eagerly, taking mental notes, until the pleasant blonde lady asked, ‘You have a car, right?’
I explained that they were out of cars at the car rental, so we’d decided on taking cabs to the different hikes.
‘Oh no,’ she said, ‘you need a car.’ And then, as casually as if offering a squirt of sunblock, she said: ‘Take mine!’
Dumbfounded, my husband and I just smiled in disbelief,” the article read.
As hard as such stories are to believe at times, they are not ‘one of’ experiences. From playing tour guide for strangers to opening up homes and the rough grub pantry cupboard with a ‘take some with ya, sure. You might get hungry for a feed of moose on the road,’ Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are the most hospitable of hosts.
So take it all in this summer. Eat the moose out of the mason jar. Sleep in the patch-work quilt bed in the master while buddy and his missus bunk in the camper in the yard because ‘it’s best kind, b’y.’ Sail in skipper’s boat, even if you just met him on the wharf. Jig a cod if invited out for a jaunt in a dory. Dance a jig with whomever offers an arm. And yes, take the car keys. Come on home out of it – wherever ‘it’ happens to be in the world – and infect yourself with our province’s epidemic of often awkward, yet brilliantly beautiful, kindness.
Pam Pardy, The Herald’s Managing Editor, can be reached by emailing email@example.com