Alma, N.B. sees more local visitors as Fundy National Park reopens
HALIFAX -- With the reopening of Fundy National Park in New Brunswick, the Village of Alma's economic fortunes are turning around. After being struck by the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourist town is beginning to see an influx of visitors – providing a boost to the local business scene.
Despite its quaint charm, businesses say the town's reliance on tourism has presented a downside amid the pandemic.
"We are set up in a tourist town, so that tends to make it more difficult because we're all of a sudden not seeing the people from out-of-province come in," says Holy Whale Brewery co-owner, Peter Grandy.
On Sunday, visitors dined on patios and caught views of the water – with all tourists being from within the province.
"You see people that want to get out of the cities and come for a drive and get a meal and support local businesses," says Parkland Inn general manager, Andrew Casey.
One attraction drawing visitors to the area is nearby Fundy National Park, which reopened to campers on Thursday.
"We can't go out right now, and we also don't want to go out because New Brunswick is kind of safe right now," says camper, Frank Yuan. "So, we want to stay here and still get away and have a chance to spend time with kids, especially when they are staying at home."
And businesses agree that the park, as well as its proximity to Alma, provides a considerable boost.
"We need the park to be open to survive," says Grandy.
"It really truly is like a symbiotic relationship," says Casey. "You know you can play in the park, but you have to stay and eat in the village."
Last week's announcement of an 'Atlantic bubble,' which becomes effective on Friday, has many business owners anxious to welcome visitors from elsewhere in the Maritimes.
"We're doing a 'bubble beer' series," says Grandy. "We're taking local produce from all four provinces and making a beer each out of them."
Those enjoying a staycation at Fundy National Park say it's vital to support local during the trying times COVID-19 has brought about.
"I think there was a financial shock to the local businesses," says Yuan. "Everyone has to try to support them and support Fundy [National Park], and Alma businesses."
Meanwhile, since Fundy National Park's gradual reopening began on June 1, pre-existing camping reservations were only permitted as of Friday. Any new reservations will not be accepted until at least Monday.