Nfld. & Labrador

Dildo promotion needed, B&B owner says

For years, the name of a Newfoundland town has raised eyebrows, caused giggling, and made tourists jump out of their rental cars to snap photos of themselves in front of the town's sign.

Tourism Department embarrassed by town's name, local businessman claims

The town of Dildo, N.L., draws curious tourists for a variety of reasons. (CBC)

For years, a Newfoundland town's name has raised eyebrows, caused giggling and made tourists jump out of their rental cars to snap photos of themselves in front of the town's sign.

Dildo is a picturesque fishing community with a growing tourism industry, but business owner Todd Warren said the Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism Department doesn't promote it enough.

"We've been told that they chose to avoid Dildo in certain publications or certain media articles that they use for marketing, that Dildo is sort of an embarrassing word that they chose not to use, " said Warren, who runs two bed and breakfasts in the town.  

No one is sure of the origin of the town's name, but the town existed long before its name came to be associated with a sex toy.

Warren admits that some tourists are attracted to Dildo because of its name, but many others visit to experience its fishing heritage and many other activities. Dildo has been written up favourably in dozens of international tourism guides and hundreds of travel articles, he adds, yet the provincial government doesn't mention the town much on its road signs, website, or in its brochures and maps.

"It's sort of hindering the growth of tourism in the community," said Warren.

Tourism Minister Terry French denied Warren's allegation that Dildo doesn't get enough play in the province's tourism guides and other promotional materials.

"On page 260 for example, there's a map of the Avalon [Peninsula] and Dildo is readily seen on the map and so is South Dildo, and all kinds of attractions are listed on the attractions page and so on," said French.

French added that he met with Warren about his concerns and now there's a small section on Dildo on the government's online tourist information website. French said his department has funded travel writers to go to Dildo and stay in Warren's bed and breakfasts, with the hope of positive publicity.  

"I'm quite proud of Dildo," said French, though he admitted to having heard disparaging remarks and jokes about the town's name.

"There was a [town] sign that was actually next to a senior citizens house once and they moved it because there was a lot of shenanigans going on around the sign."

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