Cape Breton prepares for record-setting summer after satire website goes viral
Published Friday, February 26, 2016 8:25PM AST
Last Updated Saturday, February 27, 2016 10:42AM AST
SYDNEY, N.S. -- Tourism operators in Cape Breton are already preparing for a summer that could see a record number of American visitors, after a website suggesting Americans move to the island if Donald Trump is elected has already prompted vacation bookings.
Mary Tulle, Destination Cape Breton CEO, says her company can barely keep up with the web traffic.
“We’ve have operators that we’ve connected as recently as this morning tell us that a few of their summer booking for this period this year versus this period last year are twice what they were,” she said.
The tidal wave of interest generated by the tongue-in-cheek website has already begun to translate to real tourism dollars. More than 1,200 people have clicked on “Buy Now” buttons for accommodations all over the island.
Website creator Rob Calabrese says he’s floored by the news his website has generated this much free advertising.
“I would love to see all kinds of American license plates all over the Cabot Trail,” he said. “I just marvel at the age we live in where you can get that sort of impact from a website that cost $28 to make.”
Destination Cape Breton says it would have cost 10 to 12 million dollars to buy that kind of advertising.
The interest in the island is so high, Sydney immigration lawyer Damien Barry launched a YouTube video Friday offering advice to those thinking about travelling to Cape Breton for more than a visit.
“You’re dealing with people from a huge range of backgrounds, with lots of different issues and lots of different immigration questions,” he said. “What we decided to do to help out is simply put together a short informational video.”
Barry himself moved to Cape Breton from Ireland just a few years ago.
Tulle says the challenge now is to turn this level of interest in February into real visitors months from now, during peak tourism season.
“We’ll be looking at a draft plan on how to re-target the 90,000 individuals who have, in our opinion, passed that first test of showing a great deal of solid interest in Cape Breton Island.”.
In the meantime, she says a high-profile American visitor is expected as early as next week, the same day as the ‘Super Tuesday’ primaries.
“It’s a major, major, major, major U.S. network that is going to be spending the day here,” said Tulle. “They want to see a little bit of what Cape Breton’s like.”
With files from CTV's Ryan MacDonald.