Kevin O’Hara was bored with life in Ottawa.
With a taste for adventure, he’d always been fascinated with Greenland. So in 1993, he went there — by himself.
Back in the early ’90s, adventure travel wasn’t as big as it is now.
“My friends all thought I was nuts,” O’Hara admitted.
He was immediately welcomed by the residents and was invited to stay with a family the following summer.
Over the next decade, he made more than two dozen visits, finally moving there two years ago to teach English and pursue his photography career.
Yesterday, the national capital native was back in the city to promote his new home at the Travel and Vacation Show at Lansdowne Park.
The things he loves about Greenland, including the people, the culture, clean air and the light, overshadow the things he misses (“forests and the trees, English TV and radio,” he said).
“It’s an adventurer’s paradise,” he said. “It’s not the kind of thing people who like the beaches would like — it’s wilder, more adventurous tourism.”
More and more, tourists are considering more exotic places to spend their vacations, said Travel and Vacation Show manager Halina Player.
Dozens of non-traditional vacation spots, including Syria and Iceland, exhibited at the 15th annual show for the first time — and got great responses, said Player.
The people attending the show tend to be well-travelled, said Player.
“They’ve already travelled to Europe and Asia,” she said. “They want to go somewhere different.”
Because of the recession, some people are also choosing to travel within Canada, said Player.
“With the economy, people are staying closer to home,” said New Brunswick tourism’s David Geris.
Getaway travel — trips of about three days in length — are replacing two-week long trips, he said.
A record 16,000 people attended the show over the weekend.