News release

Nova Scotia Capitalizes on Fall Tourism

Visitors and tourism operators alike will benefit from a number of provincial programs under way to promote scenic touring in the fall.

For starters, the Autumn Leaf Watch Program is already reporting for another season. A network of volunteer leaf watchers, naturalists and field biologists throughout the province is providing weekly updates on fall colour at 74 sites until the end of October.

Residents and visitors from anywhere in North America can call 1-877-353-LEAF (5323) for the timely information while making travel plans. They'll also receive news on festivals and events.

The fall foliage reports are part of the Autumn Leaf Watch Program developed by the Department of Tourism and Culture and co-ordinated by the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History. In addition to the toll-free line, people can also pick up a fall foliage brochure at information kiosks, visitor information centres and provincial museums around the province, or they can check out a fall webpage on the province's tourism site, <a href="http://explore.gov.ns.ca">explore.gov.ns.ca</A>.

Visitors aren't the only people calling the leaf watch line. "Our tour guides rely on this information because they need to tell people where and when they can expect to see good foliage," said Eric Mullen, co-owner of Canadvac Travel. His company targets German-speaking countries and the United Kingdom for tours throughout Atlantic Canada and New England.

"Awareness about Nova Scotia's spectacular fall foliage is growing," said Mr. Mullen. "Our fall foliage is as good or better than anyone else's and the peak viewing areas are far less crowded than some other jurisdictions."

This is the second year for the Autumn Leaf Watch Program. "We're pleased to see the program continue," said Judith Cabrita, managing director of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia. "Our members have long identified the potential to extend the tourism season by motivating travellers to come to Nova Scotia to view our beautiful bounty of colour."

Efforts to boost the autumn season appear to be working. Automobile traffic increased 17 per cent and recreational vehicle numbers were up 23 per cent in September 1998 over the same month in 1997. The growth continued in October 1998 with a seven per cent jump in road traffic over the year before.

"There's no question we need to spread out the business cycle if the tourism industry is to reach its full potential," said Rodney MacDonald, Minister of Tourism and Culture. "Other jurisdictions have successfully capitalized on this growing market and we're aiming to do the same."

Reports from Maine demonstrate the potential of the fall season:

the six weeks of colour in September and October are estimated to bring in nearly a quarter of the state's annual tourism revenue. In Nova Scotia, tourism revenues during September and October are estimated to represent about 20 per cent of the industry's $1.1-billion annual revenue.

More activities are under way to help build on this performance. A Fall Vacation Value Book, developed with operators throughout the province, was distributed to more than 300,000 households in the Maritime provinces and is available at information kiosks, visitor information centres and provincial museums across Nova Scotia.

"New television commercials are running in Atlantic Canada while print advertisements in Ontario and New England have been in the market since mid- to late August," said Doug Fawthrop, chair of the Nova Scotia Tourism Partnership Council and managing director of White Point Beach Resort. "The province also partnered with Prince of Fundy Cruises on a fall direct-mail campaign in New England."

These activities are all part of a 1999 marketing plan released by the council -- an advisory group to government made up of 14 industry representatives and two provincial representatives. The council leads provincial marketing and product development initiatives in order to increase the number of visitors to Nova Scotia and the amount of money those visitors spend in the province.

The revenue generated from tourism translates into jobs for some 33,000 Nova Scotians with an estimated 1998 payroll of more than $430 million. The billion-dollar industry also resulted in $106 million in provincial and municipal taxes last year. Tourism is also a significant export industry, with more than half of the money generated coming from outside the province.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Provincial tourism programs are under way to promote Nova Scotia in the fall -- and visitors and tourism operators alike are benefiting.

For starters, the Autumn Leaf Watch Program is ready to report for another season.

The program involves a network of volunteer leaf watchers, naturalists and field biologists throughout the province who provide weekly updates on fall colour at 74 sites.

People from anywhere in North America can call 1-877-353-LEAF (5323) for up-to-date information on leaf colours while making travel plans.

They'll also receive news on festivals and events.

Efforts to boost the autumn tourism season appear to be working.

There was significant growth in traffic and accommodations booked in 1998 over the year before.

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Contact:

Angela Poirier
Tourism and Culture 902-424-1593 E-mail:
Erin Frith
Museum of Natural History, Autumn Leaf Watch 902-424-3727 or 424-0440