RV Parks Play Key Role in Newfoundland Commerce

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September 13, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

It's a Saturday afternoon in late August and the main entrance to Drover's Store in Whiteway, Newfoundland and Labrador, is a virtual revolving door. People are standing in line to pay for the things they need for their weekend away from home. The freezer door is open more often than it's shut as other customers pick up beer, meat, vegetables, groceries and other items to tide them over.
Counter staff are busy ringing in sales.
"I've never been so busy in the last three days in a long time," says Craig Drover, operator of Drover's Store.

Down the street at Brown's Restaurant, staff are preparing for another evening of feeding hungry patrons.

It's a typical summer weekend in the Upper Trinity South area. Now that the fishery is no longer the economic backbone of the region, it's safe to say that tourism contributes greatly to the local economy. The new reality is largely driven by a cluster of RV parks within the nine-mile radius from Green's Harbor to Cavenish, The Newfoundland and Labrador Compass, Carbonear, reported.

Whether it's Golden Arm RV Park in Green's Harbour, Backside Pond RV Park between Green's Harbour and Whiteway, Stillwater Campsites in Hopeall, Shag View RV Park in Whiteway, or Bishop Field's RV Campground in Cavenish, there's a massive influx of people, many from urban areas, each weekend.

All are on a personal quest to get back to nature in a setting renowned for its scenic beauty.

And with another RV park under construction near New Harbor, those numbers are expected to grow in the coming years.

A swell in population

At the peak of the summer season, some say the population in this area swells by some 2,000 on weekends. People travel to the communities and populate the RV parks, cottages and seasonal dwellings.

They hike the trails, swim in the ponds, boat in the ocean and golf at Pitcher's Pond in Whiteway.

Golden Arm's community alone might grow by 500 people on a weekend.

"It's an important part of the economy," says Barbara Brown, owner of Brown's Restaurant and Blazing Horizon Cottages in Whiteway.

Local businesses bask in the unprecedented economic opportunity provided by the campers, most of whom have seasonal campsites at the parks.

The amount of business at Brown's Restaurant has grown every year for the last 20 years, says Brown, with hundreds of hungry patrons filing into the restaurant on any given Sunday.

Economic spin-offs

Campers are bound to spend their money on a variety of items and activities, contributing to economic spin-offs, whether "supporting the local golf course or spending money in local convenience stores and restaurants," Brown states.

Then there are gas stations, drug stores, hardware stores, takeouts, and even Drover's Store with its supply of fabrics, wools and gift-ware.

"There's a lot of activity in the local area," says Brown's brother, Murray Crocker, owner of both Golden Arm and Home Hardware in Green's Harbor.

"The cottage and camping development around has certainly aided … the local area," he says.

Drover, meanwhile, has been operating his store for more than three decades.

"Years ago, summertime from May 24 to Labour Day was usually a different clientele," he says.

However, he points out there was only one park – Backside Pond – in the area in those days.

"The last eight or 10 years it's been really good for us," he says.

He now sees a new clientele of "different people passing through each week. Most of them are regulars now summertime."

Of course, the increased volume of business means more hours for staff.

Attractive area

What's the attraction of the area?

Brown answers with a smile: "This is the best place on this island to live. The sunsets here are unbelievable."

Apparently, many others feel the same way. Indeed, some park owners are even hesitant to advertise their facilities, as there's a waiting list for seasonal sites. Word of mouth does the job nicely for them.

The region's economy is both healthy and strong as the result of people's desire to live quiet, peaceful lives in a rural and tranquil setting far removed from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Close-knit community

Bishop Field's RV campground even offers weekend entertainment and parties, designed to create a temporary close-knit community.

And the good times roll for local businesses, especially from the middle of May to a week or so after Labor Day.

Drover will soon be cutting back on the number of hours his staff works, since the business drops off significantly. At Brown's Restaurant, business hours will be also be reduced in the coming weeks.

The economic trends portend great things for the future.

Where would this general area be without all these parks?

Crocker has the last word, indicating that without the parks, "it wouldn't be very active here summertime."

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