Falling stars: Tourism guide misprint lowers rating for western N.L. businesses

A misprint in the 2017 tourism brochure has left some west coast businesses with a half-star rating less than they should have based on the Canada Select rating system.

Correct information online, in visitor centres but not in printed brochures

Tourism business owner Joe Dicks says some of his accomodations are full for this season and people are already booking for next year. (Submitted by Ralph Spence)

Tourism operators on Newfoundland's west coast are seeing stars for all the wrong reasons.

In this year's tourism guide, published by the Newfoundland and Labrador government, an error has left about 50 per cent of operators with a half-star less than they really have according to the Canada Select rating system. 

"This was an error that happened. It was unfortunate," said Chris Mitchelmore, tourism minister, in Tuesday's House of Assembly.

MHA Chris Mitchelmore says the error was unfortunate, but most people don't rely on print brochures and go online when booking travel accomodations. (Twitter)

Mitchelmore said 100,000 copies of the brochure were printed with the mistakes, but the correct information is online via the tourism website and in the downloadable tourism guide.

"The majority of people now are going online. People are using TripAdvisor," he said. "The star grading through Canada Select is not the primary motivator for people when they're making bookings [for] accommodations."

Joe Dicks is the co-owner of the Marble Inn, which has a 4.5-star rating according to Canada Select but in the brochure is listed as a four-star accommodation.

"Well everybody hates that. No one likes to be misprinted and everybody works hard to get their stars," he told CBC Radio's Corner Brook Morning Show.

However, Dicks echoed Mitchelmore's sentiments about the hard-copy brochure losing its value.  

"I didn't get my knickers in a knot too much about the half-star, simply because it's a print medium. And print medium today, I mean it is 2017," he said.

"I actually didn't remember whether it had arrived or not when [CBC] called, and I know a number of other people weren't quite on the ball about the guide, because what our world runs on now is Google. I mean, Google is everything."

Already booked up

He said the guide came out after the majority of his rooms were already booked on the Northern Peninsula, adding that his other accommodations are currently filled for this season and people are now booking for next year.

"Our lighthouse in the Northern Peninsula is touting almost 100 per cent occupancy from early June right to the end of August," Dicks said.

Losing half a star rating is the least of the tourism industry's worries, he said.

Marble Inn co-owner Joe Dicks says he wasn't too concerned about mistakenly losing a half-star in his inn's rating. (CBC)

What people look for now when booking travel, according to Dicks, is content. It's not about where you go, it's what you can do when you get there.

"People aren't coming for one particular experience. They're coming because they can do so much in an area, and that forces collaboration. And collaboration is really what's missing in the region," he said.

Operators not concerned, says premier

"If you isolate yourself, you'll suffer the losses that come from not being part of the party."

Premier Dwight Ball also spoke up in the House of Assembly on Tuesday about the error. He said he doesn't think the mistake will affect anyone's business.

"I spent Saturday in Gros Morne National Park talking to operators in that area. There was no concern … All indications are that the tourism industry will see significant increases this year," he said.

"We are taking this seriously. We will never take this industry for granted."

With files from the Corner Brook Morning Show