Tourists who buy a coupon to ride the Nova Star ferry will only have 90 minutes to see the province.
This year, the ferry company is expanding its marketing strategy to include a Groupon campaign. The online coupon service will offer a 30 to 60 per cent discount off regular fares.
The coupon's description states: "On arrival in port, at 8 a.m., all passengers will be required to briefly disembark and go through Canadian customs, before immediately returning to the ship for a 9:30 a.m. departure and the 10-hour return voyage back to Portland."
The Nova Scotia government has provided $28.5 million to Nova Star Cruises since its inception. The ferry has been touted as a way to attract American tourists, with the hope they'll explore the province and invest in local economies.
'Maybe next time they'll come and stay longer.' - Danny Morton
"This is a way to introduce the ship to a whole lot of people," said Danny Morton, Director of Cruise Marketing and Business Development for Nova Star. "There's great marketing benefits to putting it on a site like Groupon, so we're going to give it a try and we hope it's very successful.
Morton estimates 500,000 Groupon subscribers will receive notifications of the promotion directly in their email inbox.
"It's really an inexpensive way of marketing," he said.
Money goes back to Nova Star
Much of the return on the Groupon investment will go straight back to the company, with tourists forced to spend nearly all of their travel income on-board the ship.
"If there's benefit to the ship, there's benefit to the people of Nova Scotia," said Morton. "Maybe next time they'll come and stay longer."
Yarmouth mayor, Pam Mood, said the marketing strategy is positive.
"You know, if they can stay 90 minutes in our community and say 'Wow, this is great!' then they'll come back," she said.
The town is taking steps to capitalize on the short stays.
"We'll take the 90 minutes. People are stepping up, setting up little businesses," Mood said.
Officials with Nova Star say the promotion will be limited to June and parts of July, however there is no cap on the number of coupons available for sale. Also, Morton said passengers will be able to enjoy Nova Scotian culture on the ship.
"They're actually going to see a whole lot more of Nova Scotia right on board, with all the Nova Scotia products that we have."