• ‘Feeling Of Optimism’ In N.S. Tourism Industry About ‘Atlantic Bubble’

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    HALIFAX – For the last several months, it seemed any hope for a regular tourism season in Nova Scotia was all but dead, and tourism businesses would have to rely on money spent by locals instead.

    But on Thursday, Premier McNeil offered a surprising ray of hope when he announced intentions to open provincial borders to Canadian travelers as early as mid-July. He hopes an Atlantic bubble will be created before then.

    According to a representative from Tourism Nova Scotia, businesses are excited by the announcement.

    “It’s nice to hear the government talking this way,” said director of communications Kelli MacDonald. “There are many unknowns… but we’ve been careful to manage our expectations, recognizing that this really is about doing what’s safe for our province and what makes the most sense from a public health perspective.”

    “To hear talk of a potential opening up of Canada really does gives us a feeling of optimism.”

    In his press briefing on Thursday, McNeil said it’s important, economically, for Nova Scotia to open its borders this summer.

    “We have to learn to live with Covid. We need to figure out how we’re going to be able to move about inside of this country,” McNeil said.

    “We have to be open to this because tourism is one of the most important industries. It employs tens of thousands of Nova Scotians and we need people to get back to work so that they can feed their families and keep our communities alive.”

    Since any reopening of the borders is weeks away, Tourism Nova Scotia is hoping people within the province will consider a “staycation” of sorts to help businesses stay afloat. On June 25, the organization will launch its new ad campaign in the province.

    “The TV ad is absolutely beautiful. It’s really meant to strike a chord with Nova Scotians in order to promote a sense of pride in this place. We’ve been through quite a bit in the last little while and now it’s time to get out and really experience our own back yard,” said MacDonald.

    “It’s focussed on encouraging Nova Scotians to rediscover Nova Scotia.”

    Tourism NS also has its eyes set on when the Atlantic bubble forms and Maritime travellers are allowed in.

    “We’ve also been working on an Atlantic Canada campaign that will really signal to Atlantic Canadians that we are open for business and we want to welcome people from other provinces,” said MacDonald.

    The Tourism NS communications director said it’s too early to predict what kind of marketing campaign they would launch for the rest of Canada. But they would likely target a campaign towards the large provinces like Quebec and Ontario.

    While Tourism NS is focussing on marketing, the Halifax Chamber of Commerce is lobbying the provincial government for direct support for the struggling tourism industry.

    In a press release the Chamber, in conjunction with The Hotel Association of Nova Scotia and the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, laid out three recommendations the province should consider.
    • A $1,000 tax credit for people who stay at local accommodations or attend local events.
    • An online program that provides vouchers or a point system to encourage local shopping
    • A government grant for a program that will encourage people to shop locally and eat at restaurants.
    “This summer will be tremendously different for tourism operators and the many businesses that rely on tourists visiting our province,” says Patrick Sullivan, President & CEO of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, in a press release. “Nova Scotians need an incentive to help get the tourism industry back on its feet and we want to work to make this happen.”
    Jun 21, 2020
    Derek Montague