Nova Scotia’s tourism industry had its best year in history in 2016 and its third consecutive year of growth. In all, 2.2 million visitors came to the province last year, an increase of eight per cent, about 170,000 more visitors, over 2015.
Tourism revenue for 2016 was an estimated $2.6 billion, an increase of five per cent, $125 million, from the year before and a 28 per cent, $575 million, jump from 2010.
“The tourism sector is extremely important to Nova Scotia’s economy, employing people in rural and urban communities across our province,” said Mark Furey, Minister responsible for Tourism Nova Scotia. “I applaud the collaboration and hard work of tourism operators and others in the industry for making 2016 a record year.”
The major areas of tourism growth last year came from the United States, up 14 per cent, and Canada, up eight per cent. The province saw an increase in visitors from Atlantic Canada, 62,000 more, Ontario, 56,000 more, and Western Canada, 14,000 more. Growth from overseas markets was up two per cent. Visits by air rose by 11 per cent.
“The Ivany Report challenged the tourism industry to double revenues by 2024 to $4 billion and we have embraced that goal,” said Ben Cowan-Dewar, board chair of Tourism Nova Scotia. “Tourism businesses and organizations are rising to the challenge. They’re aligning with the strategy, driving innovation and delivering unique and memorable experiences for visitors.”
Susan Downey Lim is one example of the creativity and innovation in Nova Scotia’s tourism community. Ms. Downey Lim’s operation has evolved from a seasonal tour business to a diversified, year-round series of businesses, including Grape Escapes NS Wine Tours, Taste Halifax Tours, which includes Beer Bus, and a new venture called the Chain-Yard Cidery on Agricola Street in Halifax.
“As a tourism operator, you have to put yourself in your customers’ shoes,” said Ms. Downey Lim. “We need to be irresistible. That means you have to have great ideas, collaborate with others in our industry, and have the courage to take some risks.”
The province also saw strong growth in room nights sold to 2.6 million, up four per cent from 2015. Cape Breton had the biggest jump, up 16 per cent.