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From fishing boats to tour boats

The Story

It's more than a decade after the cod moratorium and the O'Brien brothers are busy reeling in tourists, rather than fish. In the wake of the cod ban many fishermen have made a successful switch to operating tour boats that offer visitors from around the world a chance to take in the natural habitat, which includes whales and puffins. This CBC Television clip looks at how one traditional fishing family made the transition to tourism and how Newfoundland is finding its second wind as a travel destination.

Medium: Television
Program: Here & Now
Broadcast Date: July 5, 2004
Guests: Joe O'Brien, Loyola O'Brien
Reporter: Jonathan Crane
Duration: 6:45

Did You know?

• One of the offshoots of all the media coverage of Newfoundland and Labrador's fishing woes was a sudden increase in tourism.
• Tourism officials believe the images of serene outport towns acted like a siren call for people looking to explore something off the beaten path.
• Initially, Newfoundlanders struggled to keep up with the tourist demand for certain amenities, such as rental cars, hotel rooms and restaurants.

• That changed in the late 1990s as several high-end hotels and spas cropped up in St. John's to accommodate the influx of visitors.
• In 2002 a massive renovation of St. John's International Airport was undertaken to better accommodate tourists.

• Since the mid-1990s the provincial government has spent millions of dollars promoting Newfoundland tourism around the world, with print, radio and television campaigns.
• Between 1996 and 2001 Newfoundland and Labrador experienced a nearly 40 per cent jump in tourism, making it the country's fastest growing tourism destination.

• The O'Briens are just two of dozens of former fishermen to try their hand at the tourist trade.
• Other companies to sprout up offer kayak trips of the Newfoundland coast and guided tours of historic sites, including a recreated Viking village dating back 1,000 years.

 • Even design diva Martha Stewart succumbed to the charms of Newfoundland. In 1997 she filmed an episode of her highly rated show Martha Stewart Living in and around St. John's.
• The November 1997 episode showed Stewart as she foraged for rare berries, kayaked along the shore and tried her hand at jigging for cod.


Fished Out: The Rise and Fall of the Cod Fishery more