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Bursting the bubble? Premiers, industry leaders urge people to stay close to home
HALIFAX -- The Atlantic tourism bubble kicks in next Friday and Atlantic Canadians will be free to visit any one of the four provinces, without self-isolating -- and many will.
People who run hotels, restaurants, campgrounds, gift shops are hoping for the best.
But even with new-found freedom to travel, it seems the provincial governments are actually hoping people will stay close to home.
Nova Scotia has launched a marketing campaign encouraging people to spend their money at home.
Joann Fitzgerald says the province wants to entice people who traditionally spend their tourism dollars outside of Nova Scotia to re-direct their spending on stay-cations.
"Visit places and restaurants and accommodations and experiences (you've) never done before," Fitzgerald said. "I think that's where it will help make an impact."
Fitzgerald also says roughly one-third of tourism revenue comes from people who live in the province.
"There's already an idea of people in Nova Scotia who wanna spend your money here anyway," Fitzgerald said.
But there are signs it could be a struggle all summer.
The COVID-19 pandemic is posing a major threat to the entire maritime tourism industry.
Restaurant owner Lil MacPherson says her fellow Nova Scotians need to come through and deliver a big tourism boost this summer season.
"I really hope that we learn to invest in ourselves locally -- in every way," MacPherson said.
John Campbell, who runs the Sou'Wester restaurant at Peggy's Cove, is expecting a bad summer.
"My projections for the year is to be down around 60 per cent," he said.
In New Brunswick, business leaders are crossing their fingers and hoping the Atlantic bubble opens the door for a much-needed economic growth.
"Maybe now that our borders are open and there's a free flow of traffic, we may see that confidence go up," said John Wishart of the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce.
On Thursday, the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador sent out a tweet basically asking Newfoundlanders to stay close to home and support the local economy.
Not to be outdone, the premier of Nova Scotia also took to Twitter urging Nova Scotians to rediscover their own province.
"We really need to invest in ourselves and put her money back in our own province and employ our own people," MacPherson said.
If these things happen, MacPherson says the tourism season might not be as bad as many fear.