Nova Scotia’s tourism sector’s goal is to double tourism revenue from $2 billion to $4 billion by 2024, and first-time visitors are a big part of that strategy.
Martha Stevens, acting CEO and director of marketing at Tourism Nova Scotia, presented their strategy at Thursday’s meeting of the municipal community planning and economic development committee.
“We often get the question why first-time visitors? Aren’t all visitors important? And the answer is yes, all visitors are important but the work that Tourism Nova Scotia will be doing will be focusing on that first-time visitor,” said Stevens.
In 2015, Nova Scotia’s tourism sector had its strongest year in 15 years in terms of visitation to the province. Still, the current trajectory would be $700 million short of the $4-billion goal.
Tourism Nova Scotia, which became a Crown corporation last April, would like to see the rise in first-time traveller’s increase to 24 per cent to help it reach its goal.
“We expect once they’re here in Nova Scotia and have the opportunity to experience what we have to offer that their experience in the province will dictate if they return for their second or third time,” said Stevens.
One of the ways Tourism Nova Scotia plans to attract first-time visitors is by entering the China market this year through its partnership with Destination Canada.
Stevens had the opportunity to experience first-hand how the Chinese travel trade looks at coastal destinations.
“The ability to have an open coastline, and a coastline that you can access by walking down to the beach or taking a whale watching adventure,” said Stevens, “that is what was resonating with the Chinese traveller, and our province has that in abundance.”
Tourism Nova Scotia is currently marketing the province in Ontario, Quebec, the United Kingdom and Germany. It’s expecting growth in the western provinces and in the northeastern United States, particularly the Greater Boston area — areas that have not been major focuses until now.
Coun. Jennifer Watts noted that Halifax has strong ties to Boston.
“In 2017 we’re going to be having the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion, which is a commemorative event, but it does very much somewhat tie its way in with our relationship with the folks in Boston because of the response,” said Watts.
Stevens said 2017 should be a big year for tourism because the Halifax Explosion event and the new convention centre are expected to bring in new travellers to the province.
“The consumer has so many choices every day, whether they want to take their vacation in Nova Scotia or in Long Island or in Switzerland. Those are the markets we’re competing against and it’s consumers that are making those choices every day, so our experiences have to stick out,” said Stevens.