CTC News

Signature Experiences Collection® case study 10: Gatherall’s Puffin and Whale Watch.

Newfoundland family business looks to stretch its wings internationally through CTC’s acclaimed program.

06 February 2012

The Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC)’s Signature Experiences Collection® (SEC) has garnered plenty of attention in the media and tourism industry. People want to know who’s in, why they joined and what advantages being a member will bring.

The Collection is Canada’s trump card in the international tourism marketplace.  CTC’s research shows that big-spending travellers like to participate in just the kind of high-quality tourism experiences on CTC’s membership list.

CTC News is running a series of case studies putting Collection members under the spotlight and letting them tell their story in their own words. Here, Rosemary Gatherall, co-owner of Gatherall’s Puffin & Whale Watch, explains how her family company’s deep local roots help travellers connect with authentic Canadians and wildlife in Newfoundland.

When did you decide to get into the business of tourism? And what inspired you?
Our business started 25 years ago now in 1986. We could see at that time there was a need for good-quality sea transportation for tourists. They also needed someone out there to interpret what they were seeing and experiencing. Plus the bottom had fallen out of the fishery market here in Newfoundland. So we teamed up with a friend of ours, a naval architect, and got started. We [Gatheralls] are a bunch of driven people. We’re one of the original Bay Bulls families—the Gatheralls have always had an attachment to the sea.

What’s the biggest challenge facing your business today?
Getting more bums in seats from out-of-province remains our biggest. There’s nothing we can do about the weather, nor about the migrating patterns of whales and seabirds. We just need more tourists, especially in the summer months between May and September, who are prepared to come here and spend money.

What motivated you to apply to the Signature Experiences Collection®?
We’ve always supplied quality experiences for visitors, ones that are a bit different, personal and also have an eye on the environment. So when we heard about the SEC earlier this year we thought we’d be a good fit.

Tell us more about the experience that is featured in the Collection.
Picnic with the Whales is a close, intimate trip, yet it’s not intrusive on its natural surroundings. Our three-hour private sea tour is hosted by a senior naturalist [one of the owners], which makes people feel special and takes visitors so close that some of them even find this a spiritual journey. We take a break in the cove of an abandoned fishing village for a picnic lunch, which has a big focus on local Newfoundland food. There’s fish of course, maybe some beer from a local brewery and a home-made dessert from fresh, local ingredients.

What kind of travellers does your business attract?
We generally get people looking for soft adventure, usually 45 years old or more. Our clientele is mainly international, generally well read and well educated. They’re a pretty high-end bunch in most cases, too.

What immediate benefits do you see for your business now that you are part of the Collection?
It’s another market for us to tap into. We’re already promoting our membership via print and electronic media to raise our profile. And it will help our clients feel good about how they’re spending their money.

Are there specific international markets that you can see Gatherall’s Puffin & Whale Watch resonating in through the Signature Experiences Collection®?
We’re hoping to get more visitors from Europe, especially Germany, where the people are very aware of marine wildlife.


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