N.S. tourism operators hopeful COVID-19 restrictions will soon ease as summer visitors begin arriving
HALIFAX -- Tourism operators in Nova Scotia are feeling encouraged, as more visitors continue to arrive.
However, those in the industry are calling on the province to move up their reopening plan to meet the tourism demand.
Terri Gaglardi was one of hundreds visiting the Halifax waterfront on Tuesday. Gaglardi travelled from Calgary to Prince Edward Island, and eventually made his way to the city.
"Right now, we're just looking for a nice waterfront patio to go to," said Gaglardi, an Alberta resident.
Low COVID-19 numbers and fresh Maritime air are playing a large role in the increase in tourists.
“It’s so great, we’re just loving it," said Gaglardi. "It’s been really great to be able to come to the east coast and have a little more freedom."
Tourism operators say they are happy with the number of visitors they are seeing right now.
“We’re actually sold out now for most tours, for a week in advance,” says Denis Campbell, a tour operator in Halifax.
But Campbell says things could be even better if Nova Scotia's COVID-19 restrictions were in line with the other Maritime provinces.
He points out that the Harbour Queen – a Mississippi-style sternwheeler used for tours in the Halifax harbour – has a capacity of about 200, however restrictions limit their passenger numbers to 50.
“It’s very frustrating when our neighbouring provinces around us have eased those restrictions and they are seemingly doing fine and we’re just a little frustrated that we can’t do that here in Nova Scotia,” he says
For some visitors, just being back home is enough. Jenny Gritke is from Nova Scotia. She’s visiting home for the first time in almost two years.
“For anyone who grew up in the Maritimes and moved away, I think they know how much it means to come back, how special this place is. It’s just a different feeling when you’re here,” said Gritke.
As thousands of others come to Nova Scotia, some in the tourism industry say the current restrictions mean those visitors are taking millions in unspent dollars with them when they go back home.