Residents on Bell Island cut the ribbon on a new tourism initiative Thursday to kick off their campaign to get day visitors to plan week-long expeditions to various sites in the area.
The ceremony took place at the former lightkeeper's residence, where government money transformed the site into an interpretation centre, cafe and gift shop.
Henry Crane, chair of Tourism Bell Island, said the 10-year tourism plan marks a turning point for Bell Island.
"The lighthouse has always been a draw. Everybody would like to come into the residence, but of course you couldn't come in, so our vision was to develop something that would draw hundreds of thousands of tourists," he said.
Crane said residents helped the plan come to fruition through volunteer hours and donations, knowing the revenue from the new spots will help pay for future tourism projects like an RV park, farming initiatives, and possibly a marina.
He added the new attractions will help change the economic landscape of the community, which is only accessible by ferry.
"Mining was there forever and a day. It was there for 75 years; it was an industry that came and went and had its time. This is a turning point for Bell Island," said Crane.
Picnic, hiking, and haunted spots
In addition to the lighthouse plans, tourists can take on the bucket list — a list of activities and spots to visit on the island.
Visiting a network of trails that curl and wind into fairy circles — pathways that, according to local legend, are the travel lines for the island's dense population of mischievous fairies — or grabbing a picnic packed into a salt beef bucket.
Kay Crane said there are great ideas from different people in the community, including her own of the picnic.
"One Sunday as I was cooking a Jiggs dinner, I cleaned out the bucket and I was bringing it out to the porch. I was walking with it and I said, "This might be an idea for a picnic basket,' and I approached Henry [Crane, her husband] and mentioned it to him last year and he laughed at me," she said.
But when she polled some fellow residents, they liked the idea, and added some others to come up with the complete bucket list of must-see spots.
It seems unlikely anyone will be able to get through the full list in a single day, and that's part of the tourism group's plan to get people to stick around longer.
With the $60-million ferry investment set to ease travel pains in the next 18 months, the tourism committee is eager to cater to the crowds expected to start crossing the tickle more often.