Nova Scotia tourism operators primarily welcome local visitors
Nova Scotia tourism operators say that while they are starting to see more and more license plates coming from outside the Atlantic provinces, the bulk of visitors are still local residents.
Provincial tourism revenue estimates for 2020 were to be less than $ 900 million. This is $ 1.7 billion less than in 2019, a deficit mainly due to the fact that non-residents were unable to make it to Nova Scotia.
For most of this year, tourism operators have had to rely more on residents who travel to their home province.
And they say Nova Scotians are staying longer and booking more experiences.
Grape Escapes Nova Scotia Wine Tours, which takes people to wineries in the Annapolis Valley, said it hosted mostly locals this summer.
But owner and tour manager Susan Downey Lim said that was starting to change.
“It’s heavy in Atlantic Canada, but we’re seeing a huge influx of guests from Ontario, Quebec and it’s starting to be western Canada and British Columbia now as well,” Lim said. “And a little bit of the United States”
Due to changing restrictions related to the pandemic, many people from out of the province have had to postpone visits from spring to late summer, she said.
But Lim said people have booked tours. Their daily wine and lunch getaways have proven particularly popular.
One place his guides recommend is Avondale Sky Winery in Newport, Nova Scotia.
The winery itself is inside an old church that floated across the Minas Basin. Lim said the location is scenic.
“It’s a bit off the beaten track so we don’t visit them as often as we would like,” she said.
Alicia Simms started a social media page promoting tourism in the Truro area, which eventually became Secret Nova Scotia Tours, a company specializing in the province’s “hidden experiences”.
In March, people across the province wanted to book tours, but were reluctant to pay to reserve places, given the uncertainty of the pandemic.
“We were hoping to start in May, and of course we were closed,” she said.
Since June, they’ve been doing well with reservations – people especially want to slide through the mud in Maitland, Nova Scotia, she said.
“It’s an amazing experience where you can see adults turn into children,” she said.
Simms is hoping that his number of reservations will remain high and that they can continue their tours until the fall.
Brian Hebert offers Fossil and Gemstone Tours at Fundy Treasures in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia.
He was also hoping for a busy May, but everything stopped. The canceled spring tours now take place at the end of summer.
“There were a lot of people from Ontario and a few people from New Brunswick as well,” he said.
It now also offers virtual tours. They’ve done it in the past, but it’s gotten more popular with the pandemic, so they’re expanding it next year.
Hebert said even locals find new parts of their own backyard to explore. He is happy to show them the literal hidden gems in his part of the province.
Longer stays, higher prices
Bed and breakfasts in Nova Scotia have seen varying numbers of visitors. For those in the Cape Breton region, this has been a difficult year.
Accommodations on the mainland, like Coopers Inn in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, also had a rough start to the season.
David Chute, who co-owns the hostel with his wife Pat, said they saw about half the number of visitors as they normally do, especially in July.
But Nova Scotians who come are staying longer, said Chute, exploring the hidden gems of the South Shore.
Many tourists come to the white sand beaches all over Shelburne County, but Chute said more and more bird watchers have started to come to the area each year to visit a nearby bird sanctuary. .