Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Western Star review of Wanderlust article
One of the world’s premiere travel magazines has featured Newfoundland and Labrador in a special anniversary edition. Wanderlust, a leading United Kingdom travel magazine, issued a “100 Greatest Travel Secrets” for its 100th issue and 15th anniversary celebration.

While Sarah Baxter, the magazine’s deputy editor, said the 100 secrets were not ranked, Newfoundland and Labrador certainly deserves being one of the “larger secrets” as the first destination revealed in the issue.

It was geography and attractiveness that led to the province being featured, says the editor.
“The reason we short-listed Newfoundland is because most people in the U.K. fly straight over it,” Baxter told The Western Star. “Tempted by the west coast or maybe Toronto, Newfoundland gets completely overlooked by most Brits and yet it offers all of that wonderful Canadian wilderness — and then some. There aren’t many places where you can simultaneously whale and iceberg watch, without paying hefty prices for a polar cruise. All of this, and not much jet lag.”

She also feels Newfoundland has the authenticity the magazine’s readers crave.
“Fishing is still big business, people don’t lock their doors and are genuinely warm and friendly,” she said. “Reading (William Gray’s) piece, you can almost smell the salty air.”

Gray, an award-winning travel writer and photographer, told The Star he came to Newfoundland to see icebergs. The first-time visitor to the island travelled from Deer Lake through to Gros Morne and up the Northern Peninsula to Quirpon, and back.

While it was after the iceberg season and he returned without capturing a single sighting, he was not disheartened.

The Newfoundland section is entitled “The secret life of bergs.”

It is introduced — “On a quest to spot migrating icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland, William Gray discovers Britain’s first-ever New World colony remains as alluring and enigmatic as it was four centuries ago.”

The absence of icebergs was overshadowed by the scenic beauty of the coastline and the abundance of marine and wildlife and food and hospitality. Gray said he wants to return, noting a family vacation would be ideal, and get a glimpse of the elusive icebergs.
He would like to explore the east coast too.

Meanwhile, Maria Matthews, chair of Western Destination Marketing Organization and owner of Vision Atlantic, was thrilled with the feature. She said it was long overdue.

“It just proves what we have known all along, that this destination has the potential to compete with the very best, and how ironic that we are going through this flight nightmare?” she said, referring to the efforts to secure an international flight to the area.

“That’s the biggest impact in this; this has hit the newsstands and you can’t even get to Newfoundland, let alone the west coast.”

Mike Ward, chair of the Humber Valley Resort owners committee, said the recognition portrays the opportunity that exists for Newfoundland as a tourist destination.
“People are clearly looking for a different experience than a typical beach holiday and it is great that the magazine has recognized the potential that exists,” he said.

“Newfoundland has so much to offer and a great quality of life that people return again and again in the different seasons.”

Ward also raised the question of accessibility to the island and the expense of excessive air travel that results from the loss of a direct flight from Gatwick to Deer Lake. Ward has visited the west coast at least twice a year for the last five years, and is hoping for some resolve in travel challenges.

“Gros Morne is a truly special place and tourists love to go whale watching and see the icebergs, and this is very different to holidays in Europe,” he said. “The skiing at Marble Mountain has powder which is better than anywhere in Europe and you get significantly more skiing because of the lack of lineups.

“...Snowmobiling is one of those activities you wouldn’t normally get to do, but the trails in Newfoundland offer a wonderful experience.”

Western Star review of Wanderlust article

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