N.S. government says it won't close remaining visitor information centres
Published Wednesday, February 24, 2016 10:50AM AST
Nova Scotia’s annual Doers and Dreamers tourist guide is out, but provincial visitor information centres are no longer indicated on the main map.
The opposition suspects it’s an indication that the provincial government plans to close the centres, but Tourism Nova Scotia says it’s just part of a new way of doing business.
“They’re not on the map anywhere… so, I think that’s the message that they are closing these things for 2016,” says Progressive Conservative MLA Chris d’Entremont.
Last year, the province closed visitor information centres in Digby and Pictou in an effort to save about $1 million a year. But Nova Scotia Tourism says there is no plan to close the remaining six centres.
“People shouldn’t take the signal that there has been some decision made on the future direction of visitor information centres … they’re an important part of our tourism industry,” says Michael Johnson, chief operating officer for Tourism Nova Scotia.
Municipal and provincial visitor information centres are identified in the inside pages of the guide this year and are also listed online. Tourism Nova Scotia says that’s part of a larger shift in business, with 75,000 fewer guides printed this year.
There were roughly 85,000 fewer visits to the centres in 2015 than in 2014, representing a drop of about 19 per cent. After accounting for closures in Digby and Pictou, the six remaining centres saw 10 per cent less traffic.
Meanwhile, there was a 31 per cent increase in web traffic in 2015 over 2014.
But d’Entremont says many tourists still rely on the visitor information centres when travelling in Nova Scotia.
“There’s a balance between the two. Not everybody can use an iPhone or an android,” says d’Entremont. “Not everybody is pre-researching every aspect of their trip.”
“We all agree that they play an important role in the province and I don’t see that changing,” says Johnson.
However, he admits it’s possible there could be changes to the way in which visitor centres operate.
The government has given Tourism Nova Scotia a mandate to double tourism by 2024 and the Crown corporation says it is exploring all of its options when it comes to growing the industry.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Sarah Ritchie
The Nova Scotia government closed the visitor information centre in Pictou, N.S. in 2015, but a local group has taken over its operation.