HALIFAX -- David Higgins walks along the Halifax waterfront every chance he gets.

"It's about the best part of living in Halifax," said Higgins, who has lived in the city his entire life. “But these days it's a little rough. We’re missing some of the areas you used to walk on."

Multiple construction sites have blocked off large sections of the boardwalk. It is a mixture of private development and municipal upgrades.

Factor in the recent pandemic restrictions and it all adds up to a major drop off in business.

"We have been down here since 2007 and this is our slowest season since then," said business owner Pat Mackin, who added that over the past year, the tourist hot spot has experienced a historic drop off in visitors.

"Right now, it's pretty much local people and people from the surrounding towns," explained Mackin.

Tourism operator and multi-business owner Dennis Campbell is confident the comeback from the pandemic is fast approaching.

"When things open up, it is going to really pop. It is going to be good," said Campbell.

Campbell says a full recovery for the waterfront area would largely hinge on out-of-province and international visitors.

"Cruise ships for us is over half of the business. Cruise ships were down 100 per cent," he says.

Campbell says so far this year his sales have increased compared to this time last year.

"But they are certainly not near where they were in 2019,” said Campbell.

Paul MacKinnon from the Downtown Halifax Business Commission is holding out hope that outdoor festivals will return in some form the summer.

"Event organizers, more than anyone are scrambling a little bit, in terms of trying to figure out what the situation is going to be by the time their event happens," said MacKinnon.

MacKinnon said there are ongoing discussions with the province about the restrictions for waterfront festivals and crowd sizes this summer.