Connectivity helping the touristic experience on Anticosti Island
Anticosti Island is the jewel of the St. Lawrence with its wild vistas and its heritage forged in legend. For local businesses, residents and tourists alike, life on Quebec’s largest island is about to get much more connected with the recent arrival of TELUS 5G and high-speed Internet.
Anticosti Island is a vast natural territory in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In September 2023, it was named to UNESCO's World Heritage List, thanks to its extraordinary paleontology. It’s also a promised land for hunters and fishers with its tens of thousands of deer and many crystal-clear rivers and waterfalls. Its 220 or so bird species and rare plants are an endless source of fascination for nature lovers. As the only inhabited village on the island, Port-Menier’s 175 residents welcome some 8,000 tourists every year – and that number continues to grow.
It’s all this and more that first enticed Fernand Marcoux across the St Lawrence to the island’s shores. In 2021, Marcoux, together with Sylvain Jenniss, his business partner, bought the Gîte du Copaco Inn in Port-Menier, welcoming visitors and workers alike to come over and enjoy the fresh air and spectacular surroundings. The goal was to diversify the range of local offerings with a car rental service and excursions, along with the opening of the Musquaro smokehouse. Salmon, trout, scallops, shrimp and cheese are cold-smoked over maple wood, using a traditional Indigenous method passed down for three generations and learned by Jenniss.
“For me, this place was love at first sight, and with our inn and smokehouse, we’re now fortunate enough to be able to share that pleasure of being in the great outdoors,” says Marcoux.
Marcoux, along with the entire population of Port-Menier, welcomed high-speed internet and cellular coverage from the TELUS 5G network, thanks to a private investment of $5 million in the North Shore and a nearly $11-million contribution from the government of Quebec and the CRTC.
These upgrades have made an already remarkable life even better for everybody here, including businesses such as Marcoux’s Gîte du Copaco.
“In terms of visibility and attracting visitors, it makes a real difference. The quality of the internet service helps us to stand out, especially with our customers. It lets us keep things running a lot more smoothly, and offers better security,” notes Marcoux.
Before 5G, customers couldn’t get a cell connection outside of the Gîte inn. Among other stories, Marcoux remembers guests who had communication problems after getting three flat tires on the island’s bumpy roads, and a last-minute cancellation of a live interview due to an unreliable internet connection during a spell of bad weather.
A more connected tourist experience
Deployment of high-speed Internet and cellular connectivity makes the region more attractive and encourages businesses and the village of Port-Menier to increase their online visibility to better respond to visitors’ needs.
The tourist experience becomes even more connected.
“Before the 5G era, lots of people were hesitant to travel to the North Shore. They didn’t know if they’d be able to communicate with anyone if something went wrong. Also, tourist companies on Anticosti didn’t have websites, or if they did, it was hard for them to keep their sites updated,” explains Josy-Anne Dufour, communications and marketing officer for Tourisme Côte-Nord.
Travellers seem to be relying more and more on cell connectivity when getting around the island, and to consult online resources to prepare for their trip.
“Some people used to think that Anticosti Island was only a hunting and fishing destination. Connectivity is helping to debunk that myth. It allows travellers to learn about the tourism options in the region so they can come here and discover our great outdoor spaces while staying connected to the rest of the world,” says Dufour.
“It's made an inaccessible region into one that’s much more accessible.”
Opening a window to the world
Dufour notes that connectivity has also given the island’s economy a boost. Anticosti businesses that are members of the regional tourism association have changed their business models now that they have access to digital tools to offer better services, increase awareness of their businesses, and improve their visibility both within Quebec and abroad.
For Marcoux, high-speed internet and cell service have allowed the Gîte inn and its smokehouse to increase their range of offerings. Together with his business partner, he hopes to reproduce the business model of his Anticosti business in La Romaine in the Lower North Shore: “Connectivity will make it a lot easier to coordinate things between the two businesses.”
“We have lots of ideas to expand our activities at the smokehouse by highlighting the unique seaside landscape of the North Shore,” says Marcoux. “High-speed internet helps us contribute to Anticosti Island’s visibility and vitality through our business and our high-quality products.”
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