Premier Furey Establishes Tourism Advisory Council

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by ahnationtalk on January 15, 2021400 Views

January 15, 2021

The Honourable Andrew Furey, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, today announced the establishment of the Premier’s Advisory Council on Tourism. The 14-member Council will focus on providing advice to the Provincial Government on short-term measures to assist with the sustainability, reopening, and recovery of the tourism sector in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The members of Premier’s Advisory Council on Tourism are:

  • Jill Curran, Chair
  • Peter Avery
  • Amanda Decker-Penton
  • Mike Gatherall
  • Barb Genge
  • Robbie Hickey
  • Jillian Larkham
  • Mark McCarthy
  • Heather McKinnon
  • John Norman
  • Brenda O’Reilly
  • Tammy Priddle
  • Andy Turnbull
  • Todd Wight

The main objectives of the Council will be to develop recommendations for short-term actions and initiatives to support the tourism sector during the continuing pandemic restrictions; to develop recommendations on strategic activities and actions that will support the industry as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed and into the future; and, to provide advice and support to the Tourism Board, for the renewal of the province’s Tourism Vision and Strategy.

Biographies of the members of the Premier’s Advisory Council on Tourism and the Council’s Terms of Reference, can be found in the backgrounder below.


“Tourism is one of our province’s most vital economic drivers. The establishment of this council is essential as we move forward to rebuild the industry from the devastating impacts of COVID-19. The voices of our tourism operators have been heard and it is my hope that the dedicated work and recommendations of this council will serve to create a successful path to recovery for tourism in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Honourable Andrew Furey
Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador

“Tourism businesses are owned and operated by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. They are our friends, our family, and our neighbours. And like many, these businesses have been greatly impacted by the global pandemic. The Premier’s Advisory Council on Tourism is a positive step on the road to recovery. It is one that will provide insight, guidance and support to our province’s tourism industry as a whole.”
Honourable Bernard Davis
Minister of Tourism, Culture, Arts and Recreation

“We are an industry that reflects our culture, our arts and our history – a true reflection of who we are as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. This has been a devastating time for the tourism industry, we have had unprecedented challenges and uncertainty at every step this past year. But this is an industry built upon ingenuity and I see this council as an opportunity to harness our collective energies as we navigate our way through the effects of COVID-19 on our industry and to economic recovery. We are a group of people who have built businesses from pure innovation here in Newfoundland and Labrador. This innovation is now called upon as we gather as a council to look at not only the immediate needs for our industry, but the opportunities for the future. Tourism has the ability to be a game changer in our economy. Our growth and success is built upon showing the world who we are.”

Jill Curran
Chair, Premier’s Advisory Council on Tourism


Media contacts
Meghan McCabe
Office of the Premier

Kathryn Summers
Tourism, Culture, Arts and Recreation
709-729-4819, 699-6147

Jill Curran
Chair, Premier’s Advisory Council on Tourism


Biographies of Members of the Premier’s Advisory Council on Tourism

Jill Curran, Chair
Jill Curran is an entrepreneur with a talent for building innovative companies that deliver unforgettable experiences to travelers. She is the owner of Maxxim Vacations, one of Canada’s leading tour operators providing independent travel throughout Atlantic Canada. In 2003, Ms. Curran founded Lighthouse Picnics, which went on to be featured in enRoute Magazine as one of their “100 Favourite Things in the World” list. She has received numerous awards for Lighthouse Picnics including a Cultural Tourism Award in 2005 and Restaurateur of the Year in 2007 and it was the #1 small business story of the year in The Globe & Mail in 2014. In October 2018, she was awarded the NLOWE (Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs) Entrepreneurial Excellence Award. In 2016, she was awarded the prestigious Doug Wheeler Award by the then Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation. Ms. Curran holds Bachelor of Arts from Memorial University of Newfoundland and a Bachelor of Public Relations from Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax.

Peter Avery
Peter Avery is Chief Executive Officer of the St. John’s International Airport Authority. Mr. Avery is a seasoned executive leader and Professional Engineer with over 25 years’ experience and has been with the Airport Authority for 15 years. Mr. Avery was formerly the Director of Infrastructure and Planning before his CEO appointment in June 2019. He has been instrumental in the Airport’s significant transformation, successfully leading his team to foster growth and investment in the Airport including new revenue opportunities. Mr. Avery holds a Masters of Applied Science in Environmental Engineering and a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from Memorial University of Newfoundland. He is a registered Professional Engineer in both Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario. Currently, Mr. Avery sits on the Board of Directors with Destination St. John’s.

Amanda Decker-Penton
Amanda Decker-Penton was born and raised on Fogo Island. She studied at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia where she earned an Advanced Major Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing Studies. Her early career in nursing took her to northern Canada where she practiced as a clinical coordinator in rural hospital settings. Ms. Decker-Penton’s heart remained in Newfoundland; in 2012, she took the opportunity to come home and shift from the hospital to a hospitality setting by taking a position with Fogo Island Inn. Over the past several years, she has applied her skills to help build the Inn’s global reputation for exceptional, place-based, regenerative travel experiences. Blending her acumen for both management and care, she currently serves on the Inn’s Executive Team as Director of Guest Experience.

Mike Gatherall
Mike Gatherall has been a champion of the tourism industry for 35 years as a co-owner and operator of Gatherall’s Boat Tours Ltd. Mr. Gatherall was an early adopter of marketing Newfoundland and Labrador as a destination to non-resident travellers and has fostered relationships with many of the leading tour companies in North America, Europe, UK and beyond.

Barb Genge
Barbara Genge is President of Tuckamore Lodge Ltd., a hunting, fishing and adventure tourism lodge. She is from Flower’s Cove, NL where she inherited a great respect for fishermen, sealers, guides and craft producers. Ms. Genge has operated her tourism business for 35 years. The Lodge opened its doors in 1986 and it has been visited by many travellers throughout the world. She attended college in Corner Brook and following graduation, she moved to Toronto like many Newfoundlanders, but soon realized that home was the place for her. Over the years, Ms. Genge has won many notable awards, including:  JA Achievement Award, Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame Award, PJ Gardiner Award and NLOWE Entrepreneur of the Year. She is also the current Mayor of the Town of Main Brook and volunteers with various organizations, including: DU Canada, Canadian Wildlife Federation, Viking Trail Tourism Association and Women’s Enterprise Bureau.

Robbie Hickey
Robbie Hickey is the co-owner of Gros Morne Adventures and works to oversee and deliver marine adventures and backcountry experiences. He is inspired by the beauty of the province and the authenticity of its people and believes that through a strategic approach we can navigate the current circumstances and emerge as a leader in tourism post-pandemic. Mr. Hickey has helped develop the Gros Morne Safe & Clean plan in response to the pandemic in an effort to market the region as a safe place to travel. He is a certified commercial vessel operator, trained sea kayaker, experienced backcountry guide and established marketer. He is the owner and marketing strategist at Sprout Marketing in Corner Brook. Mr. Hickey, his wife Kristen, and their two young children reside on the west coast of the province. He holds a B.B.A. from Memorial University.

Jillian Larkham
Jillian Larkham is the Director of Tourism with the Nunatsiavut Government and is originally from Makkovik, Labrador. She graduated from Memorial University with a Bachelor of Arts double major in Archaeology and Folklore. Ms. Larkin is passionate about preserving and maintaining her Inuit culture. She oversees art and craft development, tourism development and marketing for Nunatsiavut, the Torngat Mountains Base Camp and Research Station, Hebron National Historic Site. She also sits as Vice-Chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Indigenous Tourism Association and various tourism committees. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outside with her husband, two children and their dog.

Mark McCarthy
Mark McCarthy, BSc, BA, MBA, has been the President of McCarthy’s Party Tours and Convention Services since 2004. The company has won numerous awards for delivery of its locally guided products including the Doug Wheeler Award, the Newfoundland and Labrador Cultural Tourism Award, and the City of St. John’s Legends Award. In addition, the company has over 100 partnerships throughout Newfoundland and Labrador with urban and rural operators who host and entertain guests. Mr. McCarthy has served on many business and tourism focused boards including the NL Tourism Board, the board for Destination St. John’s, the board of the St. John’s Board of Trade and the Atlantic Canada Tourism Partnership.

Heather McKinnon
Heather McKinnon is the General Manager of the Delta St. John’s Hotel and Conference Centre, the largest hotel in the Atlantic region. She is also the General Manager of the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland. Under her leadership, the Delta has won three national sales and financial performance awards in the last two years from Marriott Canada. In addition to her professional duties, Ms. McKinnon is very active in the community serving on multiple not for profit boards including a term as chair of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra. She was named Patron of the Arts by the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council in 2012 and in the same year was awarded the Queens Diamond Jubilee medal for service to the community. In 2018, she was awarded the Senate 150 medal, also for contribution to the community.

John Norman
John Norman has been involved with multiple organizations, on both provincial and federal platforms, many of which focus on built heritage, environmental protection, economic development and tourism. He is the founder and President of the Bonavista Horticultural Society, Chair of the Bonavista Peninsula Dialysis Committee and the President of the Bonavista Trinity Chamber of Commerce. He has received numerous awards for his academic, professional business, and volunteer works. He is also a Top Atlantic Canadian CEO three years running and a Top 100 Canadian innovator. Mr. Norman has been the Mayor for the Town of Bonavista since 2017. In 2014, Mr. Norman started Bonavista Living; Bonavista Creative; and Bonavista Creative Workshop. All focus on built heritage restoration and redevelopment works to preserve and restore the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Bonavista’s historic properties, while taking advantage of business opportunities in the process. All three are privately funded initiatives that operate a year round heritage carpentry shop, accommodations and a significant real estate arm.

Brenda O’Reilly
Born and raised in Torbay, Brenda O’Reilly boasts over 30 years of experience in the Hospitality and Food-Service industry, most of them as an owner/operator. Her range of business experience includes catering, fast food, full-service restaurants, hotel food and beverage, fine dining, micro-breweries, casual dining, and pubs. Ms. O’Reilly presently co-owns and operates four food and beverage establishments in St. John’s: O’Reilly’s Irish Newfoundland Pub, Mussels on the Corner, Yellowbelly Brewery & Public House, and YellowBelly at the St. John’s International Airport. She is currently the Chair of Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador’s Board of Directors. Ms. O’Reilly has also served on various boards and committees, including: a 19-year term with the Restaurant Canada Board and is also an Honourary Director, St. John’s Board of Trade, National Restaurant Board for the United States, the Federal Committee with the Status of Women and an advisory committee with the Newfoundland Labrador Liquor Corporation. She was also instrumental in starting the George Street Bar Owners Association and served as a member of the Executive Committee for most of the last 18 years. In addition, Ms. O’Reilly, supports many charity organizations including: Children’s Wish, Candlelighters (Camp Delight), Daffodil Place, Salvation Army Christmas Hampers, St. Vincent de Paul Christmas Hamper Drive, Alzheimer’s Association and The Janeway.

Tammy Priddle
Tammy Priddle has twenty-five years’ experience working in the public sector. She is an executive leader with a proven track record of successfully completing complex initiatives through strategic analysis and adaptive planning. Ms. Priddle is new to the aviation industry and began her role as President and CEO of Deer Lake Regional Airport Authority in February 2020. Her collaborative leadership style has been put to good use over the last several months working with partners in the hospitality, tourism and business community in Western Newfoundland to overcome the many challenges faced during COVID-19.  She holds a Masters in Public Administration Management from Dalhousie University and lives with her family on the West Coast of Newfoundland.

Andy Turnbull
Andy Turnbull is an ambitious Indigenous business leader from Happy Valley-Goose Bay. He has led the diversification, growth, and acquisition of a successful group of companies in Labrador and remains a strong voice for business development in the region. Mr. Turnbull was inducted into the Atlantic Canada Top 50 CEO Hall of Fame in October 2020, after being named one of the Top 50 CEOs in Atlantic Canada for five consecutive years. He is the Chief Executive Officer of the Nunacor Development Corporation, the business development entity of the NunatuKavut Community Council. In this role he leads a group of wholly-owned companies as well as strategic partnerships in a wide range of sectors, such as hospitality, real estate, fisheries, mining services, and safety training. He has a Bachelor of Arts in French and Business from Memorial University of Newfoundland and has extensive community involvement, including his role as Chair of the Labrador North Chamber of Commerce, a Rotarian with the Happy Valley-Goose Bay Rotary Club, a board member with the H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Foundation and a Director of the Innovation and Business Investment Corporation.

Todd Wight
Todd Wight is a Co-Owner and the General Manager of the Ocean View Hotel in Rocky Harbour, Gros Morne National Park.  Mr. Wight’s tourism background includes many roles in tourism development with Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, NL Tourism Board, Gros Morne Cooperating Association, GMIST, Hotel Motel Association of NL, NL Outfitters Association and most recently as Chair of the Gros Morne region’s STAR Committee which is undertaking a region wide tourism development plan.  He is an active advocate for tourism businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador.  He is an avid outdoors lover and when not at work can be found enjoying family life at the cabin.

Premier’s Advisory Council on Tourism – Terms of Reference

The Tourism industry is of significant value to the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. Prior to the global pandemic, the tourism industry supported 2,700 businesses, nearly 20,000 jobs, and generated $1.14 billion in annual spending. In 2017, tourism spending in the province generated $494.0 million in direct GDP, accounting for 1.6per cent of the total provincial GDP. Jobs in the tourism sector account for 8.6 per cent of all jobs in the provincial economy. Tourism businesses play an important role in economic diversification and providing employment opportunities, especially in rural areas.

Tourism in NL consists of both non-resident and resident travel activity. In 2018, residents made 3.6 million in-province trips, spending $569.7 million. In the same year, 533,500 non-residents visited the province, spending $570.2 million, for total tourism spending in the province of $1.14 billion. From 2009 to 2019, non-resident visitation grew an average of 2.6 per cent per year, while non-resident spending grew an average of 4.6 per cent per year during the same period.

The Tourism Industry is one of the hardest hit sectors of the global, national, and provincial economies due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. The Coronavirus has led to a significant decline in all travel activity across the globe, with all non-essential travel strongly discouraged or prohibited and many jurisdictions closing their borders to visitors. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), international tourist arrivals dropped 70 per cent in the first eight months of 2020, translating into a loss of 700 million international arrivals and approximately US$730 billion in export revenues from international tourism.

Losses in domestic tourism spending for NL (including resident spending) have been estimated at $400 million to $600 million. (Tourism Economics). The number of full-year tourism jobs is expected to be 27.3 per cent lower in 2020 than it was in 2019 in Newfoundland and Labrador. Transportation services (air travel, Marine Atlantic) have seen significant decline in passenger movements and airline capacity has been severely impacted, including capacity to Newfoundland and Labrador. The number of inbound seats to the province’s 7 major airports decreased 62 per cent for the January to October period, from 1,008,357 in 2019 to 383,161 seats in 2020., with May alone decreasing 90per cent to just 11,800 inbound seats and June decreasing 84per cent to 18,600. Preliminary accommodation occupancy reporting for the January to October period indicates significant declines in room night sales (57per cent) and room revenues (63per cent). Preliminary occupancy rates for the period are down 21.8 percentage points, from 47.7per cent in 2019 to 25.9per cent in 2020.  Tourism owners and operators are challenged to make end meets when revenues have been severely impacted and many fixed costs remain the same or are escalating.

Since April 2020 both the federal and provincial levels of government have responded with significant financial programs and supports in a continued effort to provide relief to the tourism and hospitality industry. This included the provincial Tourism Hospitality Support Program and the Small Business Assistance Program. Additional provincial initiatives included deferral of fees and permits, tax payment extensions, and deferrals of loan payments. TCAR launched the Stay Home Year 2020 marketing campaign for summer, fall, and winter and has undertaken ongoing research on travel intentions and consumer demand.

The federal government has announced over $280 billion in supports for workers and business including the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), the Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA), the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund and the recent introduction of the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) program for the hardest hit businesses in the tourism sector offering 100per cent government guaranteed financing with low interest loans up to 10 years.

Notwithstanding these supports, and as pandemic restrictions remain in effect, there is a need to ensure that the industry has what it needs to survive and thrive once reopening occurs. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador recognizes the importance of the Tourism industry to the fabric of our Province and the provincial economy. It also believes in the dedicated and innovative owners and operators who make up the industry. The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, and Recreation was created, in part, to bring a renewed focus on this important sector. The Minister’s mandate letter includes commitments to work with the tourism industry to develop a renewed vision for tourism beyond 2020, and with the Government of Canada and partners to market Newfoundland and Labrador as a tourism destination.  The Department enjoys strong collaborative relationships with the industry association, Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism Board.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism Board is a public private partnership between the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and tourism industry experts. The Board was formed to develop Uncommon Potential: A vision for Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism (Vision 2020). The strategy was released in 2009 and the Board is currently working on creating a new vision beyond the current strategy.  In 2020, the Board hired Brain Trust to facilitate development of the renewed vision.

The Premier’s Advisory Committee on Tourism will focus on providing advice to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador on short-term measures to assist with sustainability, reopening, and recovery in the Tourism sector and providing support and leadership to the development of the Strategy and opportunities and initiatives for growth in the longer term.

The mandate of the Advisory Council on Tourism is to develop recommendations for immediate actions led by government and/or industry that will sustain the tourism industry in the short-term and grow the Newfoundland and Labrador tourism industry over the longer term.

Develop recommendations for short-term actions and initiatives to support the tourism sector during the continuing pandemic restrictions.

Develop recommendations on strategic activities and actions that will support the industry as pandemic restrictions are relaxed and into the future.

Provide advice and support to the renewal of the Tourism Vision and Strategy.


  • Jill Curran, Chair
  • Peter Avery
  • Amanda Decker-Penton
  • Mike Gatherall
  • Barb Genge
  • Robbie Hickey
  • Jillian Larkham
  • Mark McCarthy
  • Heather McKinnon
  • John Norman
  • Brenda O’Reilly
  • Tammy Priddle
  • Andy Turnbull
  • Todd Wight

Secretariat Support will be provided by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, and Recreation and Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador.

Timelines and Deliverables
Recommendations for short-term actions and initiatives to support the tourism sector during the continuing pandemic restrictions by March 15, 2021.

Recommendations on strategic activities and action that will support the industry as pandemic restrictions begin to lift and into the future by May 17, 2021.

Support and advice on the renewed Tourism Vision May 17, 2021.


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