News release

A Challenging Year for Tourism in Nova Scotia

The tourism industry has fared better in Nova Scotia than in many other areas during a very challenging year and the province is still considered a safe place to visit with lots to see and do.

"We had fewer visitors this year and will see a drop in revenues, which reflects the state of tourism throughout North America and elsewhere," said Rodney MacDonald, Minister of Tourism and Culture. "However, our numbers are not nearly as bad as some other areas and there were increases in visitors coming from Ontario and Western Canada."

From January to the end of October 1,905,200 visitors came to Nova Scotia, a three per cent drop from the 1,957,900 visitors during the same period last year. There were 20 per cent fewer visitors from the United States, from 310,800 last year to 267,800 this year. There was a nine per cent increase in the number of visitors from Ontario and a five per cent increase from Western Canada. The number of visitors travelling by road dropped by seven per cent while those coming by air increased by 13 per cent. Tourism revenues are expected to drop by about three per cent, from $1.3 billion to $1.27 billion.

The statistics were released today, Nov. 18, during the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia's (TIANS) annual conference and trade show in Halifax.

"Considering the external factors facing the country this year, Nova Scotia has a better tourism picture than most other provinces," said Nick Carson, president of TIANS. "Nova Scotia, for the past several years, has reached $1 billion in tourism revenues far ahead of schedule."

The booking and travelling habits of visitors has changed as well. People are no longer planning well in advance; they are taking to the Internet in increasing numbers, downloading information and looking for last minute deals. Visits to the official tourism website, novascotia.com, increased by more than 20 per cent while downloads increased by more than 400 per cent.

"The ability of government and industry in Nova Scotia to work together and adapt quickly is a valuable strength in the business of tourism," said Paul Stackhouse, chair of the Nova Scotia Tourism Partnership Council. "Our tourism plan for 2004 incorporates changing priorities with a continuing improvement in our products and services."

The 2004 tourism plan will see a focus on quality service and a concentration on scenic touring, outdoor and nature activities, Acadian experiences, golf, cuisine and wine. Research has indicated these are the activities that more and more visitors are looking for during their vacations.

Nova Scotia is recovering from the results of airline rationalization taking place throughout the world. Domestic air capacity into Nova Scotia was 24 per cent higher this year than it was at its previous peak in 2000. International capacity was down 39 per cent but efforts continue to build demand for Nova Scotia in these markets. In fact, the number of visitors from overseas markets increased by 32 per cent, meaning some people were flying into other North American locations before coming here.

The Department of Tourism and Culture continued to actively support tourism in 2003. Among its initiatives:

  • product development received an investment of $540,000 toward 37 projects with a total value of $2 million;
  • funding of $90,000 went to the tourism human resource council for recruiting and training;
  • new regulations for accommodations that will allow more flexibility for operators and help visitors make easier and more informed decisions about where they will stay. The new regulations, which are fewer in number and easier to read, are the result of close collaboration with operators;
  • the department has entered negotiations with Corporate Communications Limited (CCL) of Halifax to undertake tourism marketing activities for another three years. An evaluation process determined CCL was the successful candidate among four companies responding to a public tender.

"When we consider that this year's statistics are measured against a record year in 2002, the strength of our tourism product and industry is something we can all be proud of," said Mr. MacDonald. "One of our greatest strengths is the over 35,000 people in the province's tourism industry who welcome and serve our visitors."

2004 holds out the promise of a strong year for tourism in Nova Scotia. The Acadian Celebrations will attract hundreds of thousands of people to Nova Scotia to take part in the Congrès mondial acadien. The Tall Ships are also returning and will incorporate the Acadian Celebrations theme during visits to ports in the province.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

The tourism industry has fared better in Nova Scotia than in many other areas during a very challenging year says Tourism and Culture Minister Rodney MacDonald.

Although there were fewer visitors this year, Nova Scotia's numbers are not nearly as bad as some other areas and there were increases in visitors coming from Ontario and Western Canada.

Between January and the end of October more than one-point nine million visitors came to Nova Scotia, a three per cent drop from the number of visitors during the same period last year, participants at a Tourism Industry of Nova Scotia conference were told today (November 18th).

Officials expect 2004 to be a good year. They expect an influx of visitors thanks to Acadian Celebrations and the return of the Tall Ships.

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Contact:

Tom Peck
Tourism and Culture 902-424-1593 E-mail:
kjd            November 18, 2003        11:35 A.M.