Losing Argentia ferry means losing tourists, business owner says
Local business owners are concerned about what impact the loss of the Argentia ferry will have on their industry after Marine Atlantic made the decision to move the MV Atlantic Vision to service the Port aux Basques run for at least two weeks.
The Crown corporation announced on Thursday that they would be pulling the ferry from Argentia to service the North Sydney-Port aux Basques run after the Blue Puttees was knocked out of service due to damage caused when it hit a wharf.
An estimated 5,000 people were supposed to travel through the Argentia area, heading on to or coming off of the ferry.
- Phone lines busy, stress high for Marine Atlantic
- Atlantic Vision pulled from Argentia run, replacing Blue Puttees
- Blue Puttees ferry back in port after hitting wharf
Philip Meade, owner of Philip's Cafe in Placentia, said he's already noticing the difference in sales at both his restaurant and bed and breakfast.
Because his business is only a seasonal operation, two weeks equals 10 per cent of his season.
"My cash register's not going to be dinging the way it should be. Income to me, income to Rosedale Manor, our bed and breakfast," Meade said.
"We had two calls last night for Rosedale Manor with people cancelling — we're going to get more, we know this from experience."
He thinks Marine Atlantic should have another option by now because this isn't the first time they've pulled the Argentia ferry to solve another issue.
"This to me is just not acceptable. There has to be another way of fixing this," Meade said.
According to Meade, tourists have told him before that they won't come to the province again because of issues with the ferry service.
"It affects everything regional, not just my cash register, but everybody else's on the Avalon Peninsula and in Newfoundland, as well."
Not the first time, mayor says
Mayor of Placentia Bill Hogan said he wasn't surprised that Marine Atlantic pulled the Atlantic Vision out of Argentia, but he's not pleased.
"It's just so willy-nilly [the way] that they do things. They have a problem arise because of the unfortunate incident in Port aux Basques, and the first thing they do is pull the plug on Argentia — that solves everything for them," Hogan said.
He said the company is more concerned about the service to North Sydney than the impact on Newfoundland and Labrador and the local economy.
"We have dozens of small businesses that almost treat this as their Christmas season — the summer season for tourism," Hogan said.
"Their sales peak, they get their best sales of the year, and it rounds out the rest of the year. It's good for small business, it's good for Placentia as a destination, but all that is discounted because we've got to fix the North Sydney run."
Marine Atlantic spokesperson Darrell Mercer said on Friday that they understand it is a frustrating situation for locals and tourists alike, and the decision was difficult, but had the least amount of negative impact on the province.
The company said repairs to the damaged bulbous bow on the Blue Puttees are expected to take until the end of August.