April 23, 2011
The Gaspé Peninsula and the great explorers!
Jacques Cartier, French navigator and explorer, was truly inspired when he landed on the shores of the Gaspé Peninsula in 1534. Never could he have imagined that 475 years on cruiseshippers would be setting foot on these very shores to appreciate the alluring attributes of the region.
The peninsula is home to a diverse wealth of sea and countryscapes which have consistently won the hearts of many a visitor in the time since the arrival of the famed French navigator. Theatre of naval battles during the conquest of the New World, the Gaspé is home to myriad telltale signs of the region's rich history. A visit to one of the quaint villages scattered across the peninsula will quickly provide clues about the inhabitants and their influence down through the centuries. Mi’kmaqs, Acadians, Loyalists, Basques, Bretons, Irish, Scots and Belgians… all have lent various aspects of their personality to the Gaspé which is why the region is so unique.
By reason of geographical location, the Gaspé has long welcomed ships to its shores. Magnificent Gaspé Bay is especially appealing to navigators. Since 2008, Gaspésie port of call has been busy modernizing port facilities. The object of this strategic decision is to develop and diversify regional tourism supply, and to be poised to welcome visitors over lengthier periods of time. Traditionally, Gaspé’s tourist season ran from late June to late August. By welcoming cruise ships from May through to September, the region is able to play host to a greater number of visitors, and thereby offer a greater number of attractions and services.
This project, of undeniable importance to the Gaspesian community, involves three points of interest, namely the ports of Gaspé, Percé and Chandler which cruise lines may choose at their leisure. In the near term, infrastructure at the Port of Gaspé will be improved to provide for enhanced cruise passenger and excursion vehicle traffic flow. Next, a welcome pavilion will be built which will include a multipurpose area and full roster of services for visitors arriving by rail or ship.
In 2012, an all new activity will be offered with the launch of a rail excursion from Gaspé to Anse-à-Beaufils. This major attraction will enable visitors to partake of the magnificent coastal vistas along the tip of the peninsula and to admire the famed Rocher Percé. Once at destination, cruiseshippers will be just a stone’s throw from the departure point for excursions to Bonaventure Island National Park which is home to the world’s largest colony of northern gannets. Bird lovers and photographers will delight in observing this magnificent species known for their pristine white feathers and pale yellow neck and head! This new tourist train is certain to become a visitor must beginning with the inaugural 2012 season.
At present, cruiseshippers can choose from a mix of walking and coach tours. Individuals with an appreciation for nature, mountain and seascapes included, are guaranteed to find something to their liking, in addition to being charmed by the warm, welcoming ways of the Gaspesian locals.
More than 23 000 cruiseshippers had the pleasure of discovering the Gaspé in 2009 and 2010, and the outlook for the years ahead is even more promising yet. Indeed, it is estimated that some 50 000 cruiseshippers will come ashore in the Gaspé in 2011 and 2012!
What better motivation to pursue efforts to mobilize and unite Gaspesians around the importance of developing new services and attractions to enable visitors to discover this breathtaking region of the country!