Nova Scotia sees 2.2 million visitors in 2016, best year in history
Published Friday, February 24, 2017 8:05PM AST
Whether it’s Donald Trump or the dollar, Nova Scotia tourism saw its best year in history in 2016, with revenue topping out at $2.6 billion, most coming from the U.S. market.
Last year saw more visitors; about 2.2 million spend more money than ever before, but no one factor explains why.
People who work in tourism in Nova Scotia are hoping history will repeat itself, but they're not sure how to make it happen.
The president and CEO of one of the province's 20 wineries says he isn't surprised; he's watched both industries grow over the last decade.
“It was a record, the best year ever we had here,” says Hanspeter Stutz of Grand Pre Wines.
While wineries are certainly reaping the benefits of the increase in tourism, they may also have a role to play, in drawing visitors.
“The big percentage is the Maritimers,” says Stutz. “But of course, last year we saw more and more Americans here.”
The vast majority of visitors, 69 per cent, to Nova Scotia in 2016 came by road, the rest by air. Overall, visits by Americans were up 14 per cent over 2015, visits by Canadians, up 8 per cent. This coincides with a concerted effort by government to market the province.
Tourism Nova Scotia spent $2.4 million on U.S. advertising, mostly in the New England states. Another $4 million was spent selling iconic Maritime views across our own country.
“I think you're going to see more and more Americans explore Canada,” says marketing professor Ed McHugh. “We've got a tremendous reputation inside of the U.S. I think people are feeling a little uneasy these days.”
McHugh says Nova Scotia can likely thank a weak Canadian dollar, rather than the new American president, for these numbers.
“I don't think the Trump effect comes into it much,” he says.
However, the increase in visits to Cape Breton may have something to do with unprecedented exposure, like from the Cape Breton if Trump Wins website.
Destination Cape Breton is now trying to find a way to repeat the success.
“We learn from last year,” says Destination Cape Breton CEO Mary Tulle. “We look at our research, we look at our analytics, we look at where people came from, we look at what they looked at when they came to our website, and then what they did.”
Nova Scotia still has a long way to go in reaching provincial targets. The Ivany Report says the tourism industry should be generating $4 billion worth of revenue per year by 2020.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie