Atlantic bubble boosts traffic, but it might not be enough for some tourism operators
GLACE BAY, N.S. -- Long lines at provincial borders over the weekend made it abundantly clear that Atlantic Canadians were ready for the bubble.
The parking lot at the Cape Breton Miners Museum would normally be busy in early July, but on Monday, there were only a handful of vehicles – and only one with an out-of-province plate.
Inside, a group including four New Brunswickers was getting ready for a tour underground.
"Coming over the border of Nova Scotia, it was a long lineup," said Tim Doucette. "We were about 45 minutes getting through. (There were) a lot of New Brunswick plates, but where everybody is, I don't know."
The miners museum's executive director isn't sure the Atlantic bubble is going to be enough to salvage their season, as most of their visitors are typically from the United States, the rest of Canada and overseas.
"We get more people from Europe than we do from the Atlantic provinces," said Mary Pat Mombourquette. "So, yeah, for us, there's a little bit of hope with the Atlantic bubble, but I'm not putting the bank on it."
Elsewhere on the island, like along the Cabot Trail, out-of-province traffic was a little busier, according to the head of Destination Cape Breton.
"One operator, the Inverary Resort in Baddeck, said their bookings have doubled for July, just in the past week, so that's encouraging," said Terry Smith. "Another operator I was talking to in Cheticamp, Silver Linings Inn, they said they had almost a full house this past weekend."
But Smith says, so far, most bookings are for the weekends, and they need more traffic during weekdays.
Back at the miners museum, Mombourquette says, with the exception of the U.S. border, she'd be in favour of opening up to visitors from outside of Atlantic Canada.
"We've got how many can go underground and all sorts of safety precautions in place," said Mombourquette. "So yes, I'm all set for everybody coming in."
Destination Cape Breton says, typically, Atlantic Canadians account for a little more than 20 per cent of visitors to the island.
This year, they'll be counted upon to pick up the slack.
Meanwhile, Doucette says he planned to visit the Cabot Trail next, but after that, it's wide open.
"We haven't made any real plans," Doucette said. "We're just going to go out, see what's out there, and go on an adventure every day."
Some would say, after a couple of months of having to stay home, that's what the Atlantic bubble is all about.