YASTA hears concerns from local businesses
By Belle Hatfield
There’s still no word from STM Quest on what they’ll be charging to travel on the ferry that is expected to sail into Yarmouth harbour next May. The issue arose at a meeting of the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores Tourism Association on Monday, Oct. 21, when vice-chair Brian Rodney made a motion to contact company principals to request the proposed service’s “price point” be provided, as well as a timeline for when the company expects to release fare information to the public.
YASTA board member Robert Thibault, Brian Rodney and Alderic d"Entremont during a meeting held Monday, Oct. 21. BELLE HATFIELD PHOTO
Rodney operates the Best Western Mermaid Motel on Main Street in Yarmouth. He told the group it is difficult to develop a marketing plan for his business without that information.
“I want to do packages, but I would like to see what their rates are,” he said, adding that other operators are expressing similar concerns.
“It’s simply marketing 101,” he said.
When contacted last week, Mark Amundsen, president and CEO of Quest Navigation said through the company's publicist that the company would not be commenting further until “the necessary agreements are in place.” He said the company remains fully committed to a May 2014 start for the Yarmouth to Maine ferry service.
The YASTA board has recently met with representatives of the new ferry company and the company is working with YASTA on developing the ship’s onboard experience. YASTA’s general manager Julie Walters told her board that she is in ongoing contact with the principals.
“A lot of this [the marketing strategy] is still in development, but it is 100 per cent moving forward,” she told the group.
She said the company wants to hold onto a lot of the details to roll it out at the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia’s Tourism Summit, happening the end of next month.
YASTA has received around $125,000 in emergency funding ($35,000 each from Argyle and the town and municipality of Yarmouth, and a $20,000 conditional pledge from Clare) for marketing the region in the wake of the ferry announcement.
Board member Robert Thibault said the association’s efforts have to be focused on integrating its marketing efforts with those of the ferry company and the province.
“The most important thing for the future of tourism in this end of the world is the ferry,” he said, adding the board needs to undertake “all the efforts reasonable to integrate our efforts to make it work.”
Walters told the board that the province’s marketing plan is well advanced and the ferry company expects to be at the table at virtually all of the key trade shows leading up to next year’s season.
The board also wants to work closely with the province’s tourism agency.
“YASTA is ready to play a role,” said Walters.
“But we need them to play a quarterback role so that we are all playing on the same team with this ferry operator,” said Thibault.