Visitor density

Devil's Cove and beyond

Devil’s Cove and beyond

There are similarities between Cape Cod (CC) and Newfoundland & Labrador (NL). Both are beautiful, have long histories connected with the sea, are more residential than industrial. Even details of the fishing are similar–cod, lobster, and shellfish. Many people remark that NL is like CC of fifty years ago.

One obvious difference is the impact of tourism. That’s very evident on CC, especially in July through August, until school resumes. Tourism is important in modern NL, too, but it’s less intense and more spread out.

I did some calculations, which showCape Cod’s well-deserved appeal draw for visitors. They also show why Newfoundland & Labrador appeals to those who seek a place away from population centers, including centers created by lots of visitors.

My data are not ideal. They’re from different sources and years as well as being incomplete on points such as length of stay. One could argue about whether Labrador ought to be included in this kind of comparison.

Nevertheless, the larger story seems clear. It explains why life is much calmer in NL than on CC, especially in August

Cape Cod

visitors/year – 5.23 M
area – 339 mi²
visitors/year/area – 15,428

Newfoundland & Labrador

visitors/year – .50 M
area – 156,453 mi²
visitors/year/area – 3

NL area / CC area – 462

NL visitor density / CC visitor density .0002

The reciprocal of the last figure says that there are nearly 5000 CC visitors in a given area for a single NL visitor.

It’s only fair to mention that I haven’t been to Signal Hill in St. John’s yet. I expect that it may present a different picture from the tiny outport communities.


2 thoughts on “Visitor density

  1. Just to build a bit on your observation, one key difference is that Cape Cod is so close and accessible to major U.S. urban/economic centres — the entire east coast of the U.S. is densely populated. In Canada, our nodes are much farther apart. Consider that the population of just Massachusetts alone is close to 7 million (within an area of only ~27,000 km²), while the population of all of Nfld is just half a million (across an area of ~405,000 km²). So these population density figures are not unique to visitor/tourist populations, but a reflection of the vast distances between people and place in much of Canada, particularly when compared to the U.S. Perhaps in part for this reason, many Canadians only know their own part of the country and have experienced little of its vast, varied geographies and cultures (myself included — it’s cheaper and faster and easier for me to get to many destinations outside of Canada than to visit other parts of it). … That said, the sparsity of people and abundance of place is exactly why I prefer it here — and why the seemingly perpetual motion of many folks who come from very populated economic hubs feels, to me, abnormal. 🙂


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