Nova Scotia tourism centres dropped from guide, but fate undecided
Doers and Dreamers guide no longer references centres, nor marks sites on map
Nova Scotia hasn't decided the future of its six tourism information centres, but the province says the lack of reference to them in the 2016 Doers and Dreamers Guide isn't an indication they will be closed.
The new guide is smaller than previous versions and the decision was made to drop some information, said Michael Johnson, the chief operating officer for Tourism Nova Scotia.
- Nova Scotia's visitor information centres could be eliminated, union fears
- Digby, Pictou mayors 'blindsided' by visitor centre cuts
He said it was simply a design call.
"We thought it was strategic to put them in a different place in the guide," he said.
"We also provide that information on the provincial VICs in a map that you can pick up. They're also on our website."
The guide includes general map locations to the provincial visitor information centres on smaller regional maps, but they are simply map markers and they're included with municipally run tourism centres.
Progressive Conservative MLA Chris d'Entremont sees the decision to downplay the provincial visitor information centres as proof that a decision has been made to shutter them.
"It goes to show that the decision to get rid or close down the visitor information centres was one that was made quite some time ago, contrary to what a number of ministers have told us to this point," he said.
'Retired folk aren't necessarily on the internet'
He called it "cruel" of the governing Liberals not to let workers know they will no longer be needed.
Not every business that caters to the tourist trade is convinced the internet can replace the service provide by workers at the centres.
Andrea Woolaver, a worker and owner at the Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-op in Wolfville, said many of her older patrons don't have computers.
"I know a lot of older folk, retired folk aren't necessarily on the internet," she said. "So I'm not sure where they would get their information."
The Stephen McNeil government closed centres in Digby and Pictou last year. The remaining centres are at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, Halifax waterfront, Amherst, Peggys Cove, Yarmouth and Port Hastings.
Waiting on cabinet
Tourism Nova Scotia is still waiting for cabinet to determine if the information centres will continue to operate after months of back-and-forth discussion.
Normally, seasonal tourism workers would know by now when they will be recalled for the next tourism season.
Johnson expects word soon.
Any changes could potentially affect 70 employees — 56 seasonal staff and 14 year-round staff — who work at the centres, which are operated by Tourism Nova Scotia.
Drop in visitors, but only at 1 location
"Is this how they are communicating the closure to the employees?" Joan Jessome, president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, said in a news release Tuesday.
She said employees have not yet been called back to work, the same pattern as last year when the government closed the Digby and Pictou centres.
The province has said with more people getting their travel information online, there is less need for stand-alone information centres.
Figures provided by Tourism Nova Scotia show there was a 10 per cent drop in the number of tourists going to visitor information centres between 2013 and 2015.
However, the only location that had a drop in visitors in that time was the Halifax airport location.
All other locations — including the Halifax waterfront, Amherst, Peggys Cove, Yarmouth and Port Hastings — saw an increase in the number of visitors looking for help.