Nova Scotia

Cabot Trail businesses urge visitors not to cancel trips post-Fiona

Business owners along Cape Breton's Cabot Trail want visitors to know that they are open and ready to serve customers. While some parts of Cape Breton were hit hard by Fiona, much of the island was spared the brunt of the storm.

'Our area is far from devastated. Our area is waiting for guests'

Caitlyn Purcell and Sarabeth Drover own Salty Rose's and the Periwinkle Cafe. (Brittany Wentzell/CBC)

While the Cape Breton Regional Municipality felt the brunt of Fiona, some business owners in other parts of the island are worried tourists are getting the wrong impression about the storm's impact.

Post-tropical storm Fiona led to power outages in some communities along the Cabot Trail but most fared well compared to the greater Sydney area, with the exception of New Haven. Business owners want people to know they are ready to welcome visitors.

"I think that a lot of people are seeing on the news that Cape Breton was hit quite hard by Hurricane Fiona. But, you know, Cape Breton is a really, really large island," said Sarabeth Drover, co-owner of Salty Rose's and the Periwinkle Cafe in Ingonish, N.S.

"I think that's leading a lot of people to think that the whole island had as much damage as, for example, New Haven or the CBRM."

As a result, Drover said visitors are cancelling trips which is heavily affecting what should be one of the Cabot Trail's busiest times of year.

"We do have a lot of staff, seasonal staff that are on the payroll and are, you know, kind of counting on October."

Many business owners along the trail are concerned that visitors are getting the wrong impression when it comes to which areas suffered during Fiona. So they want to make it clear - the area is ready to welcome tourists with open arms.

Cape Breton Highlands National Park has been posting updates about its reopened trails and campgrounds, with most trails open again. But Drover said many visitors assumed they couldn't travel to the communities inside and bordering the park when it was closed. 

"They think that there's like a gate that you have to come through to get to northern Cape Breton."

Businesses in Ingonish, St. Ann's, and Wreck Cove even participated in a video posted on social media, waving to the camera to show they are open. 

On the other side of the island, Greg Larocque is dealing with a similar situation. He is the owner of the Cornerstone Motel in Cheticamp.

The Cornerstone Motel in Chéticamp. (Greg Larocque)

"Our clientele have dropped off left [and] right... We've had more cancellations than we have had bookings under the myth that everything is devastated in our area," he said.

"Our area is far from devastated. Our area is waiting for guests."

A portion of the Cabot Trail in October 2021. (Brittany Wentzell)

Larocque said there also seems to be a misconception that there won't be any fall colours to look at this year. While many trees near the ocean in the Ingonish area were damaged, trees in the Cheticamp area and in more sheltered areas are getting ready to turn colour now.

"The myth that's out there is, well, the wind took all the leaves off the trees and I can say without a doubt that is not the truth, that the leaves are wonderful and they're ready to bloom anytime."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brittany Wentzell

Current Affairs Reporter/Editor

Brittany Wentzell is based in Sydney, N.S., as a reporter for Information Morning Cape Breton. She has covered a wide range of issues including education, forestry and municipal government. Story ideas? Send them to brittany.wentzell@cbc.ca

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