Tourists seek beyond regular sightseeing, Nova Scotia tourism grows phenomenally

Published on : Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Nova Scotia tourismTourism sector is an ever changing business like any other. For example, 2016 was a banner year for Nova Scotia Tourism, with the highest number of tourists in its history and a third consecutive year of growth. In all, 2.2 million visitors came to the province last year — an increase of eight per cent. This equates to about 170,000 more visitors over 2015.

In terms of revenue, 2016 saw a growth of five per cent, estimated at $2.6 billion, an increase of 28 per cent over 2010.

“The tourism industry has changed considerably over the past five years,” says Michele Saran, CEO, Tourism Nova Scotia. “From a customer perspective, travellers want to understand what they can do in a destination beyond sightseeing — they seek unique, authentic experiences and the opportunity to engage their senses as they learn about a place.”

Another change to the tourism industry is now, in addition to seeking traditional types of accommodations, travellers (particularly millennials) are also choosing to use sharing platforms like Airbnb or VRBO.

As for technology, it has affected more than just the choices of travellers — it has created new businesses to attract these visitors.

“In Halifax, tourism is a billion-dollar industry where we receive 5.3 million overnight stays a year,” says Ross Jefferson, president and CEO, Destination Halifax.

Representing 54 per cent of all Nova Scotia Tourism spending, tourism in Halifax has risen 11.9 per cent in the past three years, exceeding the growth rate of the Maritimes, which is a healthy growth of 7.6 per cent.

As for comparing Nova Scotia with other markets, it’s clear that the location shares similarities with other ocean-side destinations, in particular the neighbouring Atlantic provinces and the New England states. That said, there are many features that make Nova Scotia unique and areas in which the province stands apart.

“Our visitors tell us that our friendly people and mix of authentic experiences set us apart,” says Saran. “As ‘Canada’s Ocean Playground’ we have accessible beaches throughout the province, even in our capital city of Halifax. And our exploding winery, brewery, distillery and cider scene, the highest tides in the world in the Bay of Fundy and the many amazing cultural elements that celebrate our Mi’kmaq, African Nova Scotian heritage and Scottish and Acadian ancestry are remarkable.

“To top it off, we have the largest airport in the region which makes Nova Scotia a great kick-off to an Atlantic Canadian vacation.”

When asked what the area excels at in terms of tourism, Destination Halifax lets the city speak for itself.

“Simply put, our product is exceptional,” says Jefferson. “Halifax has a mix of festivals and events, a lively urban and cultural scene and the amazing coastal experience. But it’s the people in Nova Scotia and Halifax that are one of our most significant assets.”

The success of the province’s tourism sector is undeniable, yet because of the ever-changing nature of industry, there is always work to be done.


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