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REF NO.: 86
SUBJECT: SWGC: Gateway West gets adventure tourism company off the ground
DATE: Nov. 7
Martin Hanzalek wants west coast Newfoundlanders to take ownership of their own adventure-tourism resources â€” thatâ€™s why he called his new company My Newfoundland Adventures.
The company officially got off the ground in June, thanks to the help of Gateway West, a three-year enterprise and entrepreneurship pilot project at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College. The project aims to put potential entrepreneurs in touch with the many resources available to them that might otherwise go untapped by inexperienced up-and-coming businesspeople. Partnering with Sir Wilfred Grenfell College and ACOA in support of Gateway West are the John Dobson Foundation of Montreal and the Humber Valley Resort Corporation.
â€œMy Newfoundland Adventures has been in the works for three to four years,â€ said Mr. Hanzalek. â€œBut Gateway West was really invaluable in taking it from the vision stage to reality.â€
The company, which operates out of Pasadena, offers adventure activities for every season of the year, everything from snow kiting and ice climbing to sea kayaking and cave exploration. Plus the company has an interest in helping preserve the wilderness in which it operates.
Most recently, My Newfoundland Adventures organized a clean up activity at the Captain Cook Lookout in Corner Brook. Those who participated also got a lesson in rock climbing, as they hoisted an oil drum full of garbage from the base of the cliff to the lookout.
â€œWe want to raise awareness, and help people take back their own communities,â€ said Mr. Hanzalek adding that conservation and environmental stewardship is a part of the companyâ€™s mandate.
Mike Jackson, director, Gateway West, said he worked with Mr. Hanzalek on his business plan and on applying to potential funders.
â€œIt wasnâ€™t a difficult sell â€” they offer a diverse selection of unique adventure tours,â€ said Mr. Jackson, adding the company was successful in securing funding from three different organizations â€” the Business Development Bank of Canada, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and the Community Business Development Corporation (Humber Community Development Corporation).
My Newfoundland Adventures can take you on a gentle raft ride down the HumberRiver, where youâ€™ll enjoy a nice lunch on the riverbank. Or try sea kayaking off the coast of Burgeo, or snow kiting on DeerLake. And for real adventurers, try heli-skiing or heli-hiking. The company also arranges tours of Greenlandand Antarctica.
Originally from Nelson, B.C., Mr. Hanzalek enrolled in courses at Grenfell to finish up a bachelor of tourism management which heâ€™d started at Thompson River University in British Columbia.
â€œI was travelling with a friend and came here as a sort of fluke; we were traveling along and arrived at the ferry â€” so we crossed,â€ he said. â€œI was really surprised at the topography, the mountains, the flora and fauna â€” itâ€™s a really great place. In British Columbia, Iâ€™ve watched the tourism industry grow. The province shifted from primarily a resource extractor to offering tourism. Fifty years ago hunting, fishing, logging were the primary industries. But now tourism is the biggest â€” itâ€™s bigger than forestry. When I came here, I saw the untapped resources. Tourism will play a big part in the future of Newfoundland.â€
My Newfoundland Adventuresâ€™ two main activities are river rafting and kiting â€” either snow kiting or kite surfing. Mr. Hanzalek has been teaching kite-surfing classes at ShallowBayin Gros Morne National Park, and this winter will do the same on the frozen surface of Deer Lake.
â€œYouâ€™ve got a three-meter kite pulling you, and itâ€™s just you and the wind,â€ said Mr. Hanzalek. â€œItâ€™s a really great feeling thatâ€™s indescribable unless youâ€™ve tried it.â€
The passion that Mr. Hanzalek shows for his business is one of the reasons that Mr. Jackson felt so confident in helping him.
â€œItâ€™s a great idea, and Martin had spent hours and hours doing the ground work and researching the market,â€ said Mr. Jackson.
â€œGateway West is outstanding at taking an idea and putting the pieces of the puzzle together,â€ said Mr. Hanzalek. â€œI can definitely say that without Gateway West this wouldnâ€™t be happening right now.â€
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