Cape Breton's fall tourism season taking financial hit
SYDNEY, N.S. -- One of the biggest fall tourism events isn’t going to be drawing crowds of visitors to Cape Breton this year, so Celtic Colours has decided to take its shows online.
In a typical autumn, many travellers would be flocked to Cape Breton island for fall foliage and fiddle music.
“In a typical year, 77 per cent of our visitors come from outside of Atlantic Canada, and we don’t have them this year,” says Terry Smith, CEO of Destination Cape Breton.
That’s just one of the ways the areas fall tourism sector will be taking a hit financially.
At the Cape Breton Miners Museum, things are already bad enough that they’ve shut down early for the fall season.
“It was dreadful, that’s the only way to describe it,” says Mary Pat Mombourquette, executive director of the Cape Breton Miners Museum. “It was like a bowling alley in here, most days I had more staff than I had visitors. I was desperate.”
With no cruise ships, and Celtic Colours this year, Mombourquette says there was no point in staying open.
“Basically there was more expense going out then what was coming in,” says Mombourquette. “We are non-for-profit, so we don’t expect to make money, but we didn’t make enough to cover our bills for the rest of the year.”
Destination Cape Breton CEO Terry Smith says the pandemic has created mixed reviews, with some tourism operators seeing a business boom, while others had their worst season in more than a decade.
“There were some operators like some cottages, outdoor operators, some restaurants that actually had a decent summer,” says Smith. “But others like hotels, inns, some of our cultural attractions, had a really challenging summer.”
Smith says if the Atlantic bubble is still in place next season, he feels many businesses won’t survive.
“We need to open up at some point when it’s safe to do so, or it’s really going to be challenging for our operators to survive,” says Smith.
A challenge nobody expected, and one tourism operator hopes won’t be the case come 2021.