May 20, 2009
Introducing Stéphane Sainte-Croix
Stéphane Sainte-Croix occupies the position of Ports Manager for Escale Gaspésie, a title chosen by Mr Sainte-Croix to define his role as General Manager of the organization which groups together several cruise development groups in the Gaspé area. Following is what he had to say in answer to our questions:
Mr Sainte-Croix, what exactly does your job entail?
My job entails managing all aspects of the Escale Gaspésie initiative, from planning and resource management to project development and communications.
Could you tell us what Escale Gaspésie is?
Escale Gaspésie is a project in the making! Set up late in 2008, Escale Gaspésie groups together three municipalities, namely Gaspé, Percé and Chandler, as well as two regional county municipalities (MRCs). The Gaspé region has three ports, each of which is used by passenger cruise vessels:
- Port of Chandler: Used by CTMA Group which operates cruises from Montréal to the Magdalen Islands;
- Port of Percé: Largely used for excursion cruises;
- Port of Gaspé: The port of call of choice for cruise lines operating to and from the Saint Lawrence and the Atlantic provinces. Ease of access makes it the port of preference for promoting and developing Gaspé with international cruise lines.
Although the organization is still in the start-up stage, ships have been calling in at Gaspé for several centuries now, beginning with Jacques Cartier in 1534! Since that time, all manner of vessels have been stopping at one or other of the ports in the Gaspé area. Today, the Gaspé is becoming a destination ripe with international cruise potential. Following studies, consultations, mobilization and dedicated efforts, Escale Gaspésie has begun to take shape.
Can you tell us a little more about this project?
Escale Gaspésie aims to enhance and diversify tourist supply in the region. By changing the vocation of the Port of Gaspé (Sandy Beach), largely used for industrial purposes, our medium term goal is to render facilities pleasant and comfortable, and to bring them up to international standards for cruise passengers visiting the Gaspé peninsula. The project will necessitate the investment of several million dollars, and work will be spread out over a number of years in several different phases.
By increasing our accommodation capacity, modernizing infrastructure and marketing the destination, Escale Gaspésie will undoubtedly support tourism development across the entire region.
What fascinates you about your sector of endeavour?
Everything about this project fascinates me! I enjoy mobilizing people around an initiative, building consensus with partners and enhancing the substance of the project at hand with each passing day. Already, I can see positive changes in the form of tourism-based enterprises spawned by the advent of international tourists to the area. I can also see the impact not only on my job but on the community as a whole. Enhancement of the cruise passenger experience is certain to pave the way for improved quality of life for Gaspé area residents.
Could you enlighten readers on your background?
Before accepting the position of Ports Manager for Escale Gaspésie, I was General Manager of Gaspé Travel and Convention Bureau, the organization which spearheaded Escale Gaspésie and brought it into being in 2008. I am thus familiar with all the ins and outs of this exciting project!
What can cruise passengers expect from Escale Gaspésie?
Until the new dock facility has been completed, Escale Gaspésie has put in place a cruise passenger greeting structure replete with water taxis into Gaspé. We currently welcome between 2000 and 3000 passengers a year and are working hard to ensure that tourists receive a warm, Gaspé style welcome.
What is your favourite Gaspé area activity?
We offer a host of different activities, but our two main drawing cards remain Forillon National Park of Canada and Bonaventure Island/Percé Rock National Park. The majesty of the coastal countryscapes and colonies of northern gannets leave tourists wide-eyed with wonder! There is also the marine mammal observation cruise which departs from Gaspé Bay… an absolute must!
What is your favourite stopover restaurant?
The region is particularly well endowed with a variety of excellent eateries. My favourites are the quality establishments steeped in the singular ambience typical of the Gaspé. The ones which immediately come to mind are Café des Artistes—in the heart of Gaspé and renowned for the quality of menu fare, and Café des Couleurs—in close proximity to Percé, where the walls bear witness to the cultural vitality of the Gaspé peninsula.
Have you ever been on a cruise?
I discovered the joy of cruises with a trip up the coast of the Pacific northwest to Alaska. A fabulous experience! I was particularly impressed by the quality of service and the diversity of onboard activities.
How are you involved in promoting cruises on the St Lawrence?
For a number of years now, I have served as a director on the board of the Saint Lawrence Cruise Association. I truly enjoy contributing to the development of this industry in Québec!
Hoping to meet you during your next cruise at Escale Gaspesie !