Sustainable Tourism for Development on Fogo Island
Renowned ethnographer and explorer Wade Davis said, “A culture survives when it has enough confidence in its past and enough say in its future to maintain its spirit and essence through all the changes it will inevitably undergo.”
You have probably heard of Fogo Island Inn, set on a remote island off Canada’s maritime province of Newfoundland. Since its opening four years ago, the inn has won countless prestigious travel and design awards, and been featured on BBC, CNN, and other global networks.
But did you know that the Inn is central to a unique, broader experiment in development, aimed at revitalizing a community hit hard by the collapse of Newfoundland’s cod fishery? “It’s not about the money”, says founder Zita Cobb. “The purpose of development is to help people belong to the world in a way that reflects their specificity, honours their unique ways of knowing, and fosters resiliency.”
This article looks at the role of the Shorefast Foundation in sponsoring a portfolio of interconnected social businesses and charitable programs, which comprise Fogo Island’s holistic development effort. It then tells the stories of two key Shorefast initiatives: the Fogo Island Inn, and Fogo Island Fish. We see themes of cultural specificity, environmental stewardship, social fairness, and sustainable tourism play out through these two examples.