Dana Fudge grew up in the small community of Norris Point. When she graduated high school she attended university and college receiving her Diploma in Electronics Engineering Technology. She moved away to pursue a career in 1997. After residing in a number of cities in Canada, and starting her family, she found herself back in Rocky Harbour, NL in December 2002. She began working for BonTours in June 2003 as marketing coordinator. In 2004, she attended Marine Institute and successfully completed courses required to become a captain. Eventually she was promoted as General Manager. Ironic how things happen, as one of her first student jobs was working at Western Brook Pond, selling tickets!
How do the experiences you offer at BonTours give guests a unique perspective on the history, people or culture of Newfoundland & Labrador?
Venture through billion-year old Western Brook Pond Fjord and watch waterfalls turn to mist right before your eyes. Located in Gros Morne National Park, your journey begins on a 3-km interpretive trail through a flatlands bog, moose and caribou habitat full of carnivorous pitcher plants and Sphagnum mosses. Once onboard, local interpretive guides share cultural and natural history sprinkled with a good dose of the Rock’s iconic salt-of-the-earth humour.
How have the various tours that you offer evolved since their inception?
The experience has evolved from one boat carrying a maximum of 30- 40 passengers to three vessels carrying upwards of 300 passengers. In collaboration with Parks Canada, we have built infrastructure and added facilities to accommodate the growing tourism industry.
What is one detail of an experience you provide that may go unnoticed by guests, but which you feel is important?
I think our attention to the environment and the safety of the passengers and crew may go unnoticed. Western Brook Pond is ISO14001 certified for its environment management system. This distinction has been in place since 2002. The safety of our passengers is on the top of our lists as well. It takes a lot of work and dedication to get our fleet of vessels ready for each season so that they can pass Transport Canada Inspections.
What do you wish every guest knew as they consider booking one of your tours?
The one important thing for our guests to consider when booking one of our tours is that there is a 3 KM walk into the tour. Guests should give themselves at least 45 minutes to 1 hour to get to the departure point of the tour. The trail is fairly flat, partly boardwalk & partly crushed stone. The only way into our tour is via this trail.
What is one travel trend that really excites you?
The trend that is exciting me is the “bucket list” trend. Some of these people saved up all of their lives for their list and Western Brook Pond is actually making a lot of these lists!
What sets BonTours apart from other boat tours in the region?
BonTours is the only tour operation that exists on the land-locked freshwater fjord in Newfoundland. As a matter of fact, it is only our boats that exists on Western Brook Pond. They were either flown in with helicopter or dragged in over the icy bog during winter months.
What is one insiders tip to getting the most out of an experiential travel vacation?
The one tip I would recommend is don’t forget your camera and batteries. You will definitely need them! There’s lots to see that’s for sure.
What is one strategy that has helped your business to grow? Please explain how.
We feel there is a lot to learn from meeting our clients at travel trade shows for sure. It’s so nice to put a face to a name. We have also grown in the social media channels as well, which we also believe plays an important marketing role in the business community now.
What is one personal habit that has helped you to be successful?
I am very proud of where I am from and I like sharing my enthusiasm with others. When I get questions about our tours, or even our province, I tell clients as much information as I can and I give them a little bit of personal experience. I enjoy boasting about Newfoundland and Labrador!
Please share one instance where a guest had a moving or emotional reaction to the experience you provided to them.
The one instance that comes to my mind where something amazing happened was during one of our tours just last summer 2015. As we were making our way into the fjord the captain spotted a 20 point Bull Moose swimming across the fjord. By the time the boat reached him, he was directly in front of the boat and the captain had to actually stop in order for the moose to continue crossing the pond. There were about 70 passengers onboard at the time and every one of their faces had the same look of awe! For tourists visiting Newfoundland, they are always looking to spot moose either on trails or the highway but never swimming across Western Brook Pond!