Yarmouth ferry delays worry U.S. businesses
Lack of advertising for Yarmouth to Maine ferry makes local business nervous
American business owners are hoping advertising will pick up soon for the Nova Star Cruises ferry between Portland, Maine and Yarmouth.
Business owners on Nova Scotia's South Shore are gearing up, hoping the return of the ferry will bring lots of tourists with it — especially during the busy summer tourism season.
On the other side, business owners in Portland are pinning their hopes on next year.
There is little visibility on the U.S. side with no office set up yet along the waterfront and no ferry in sight. The Nova Star ferry has been delayed on its journey from where it was built in Singapore to its new home port in Canada.
"We haven't seen the ship, so we can't effectively sell it,” says Donna Hanson, vice president of The Maine Tour Connection, a company that sells tours on motorcoaches in Eastern Canada.
She said there is a lot of interest, but she won't be selling tours to Nova Scotia until 2015.
Even the company’s website is behind. Nova Star Cruises still has not been able to advertise its prices or sell tickets online, meaning American tourists are less likely to be flocking to the Nova Star in great numbers anytime soon.
“Unfortunately the motorcoach group tour ship has pretty much sailed for 2014,” says Hanson. She said she needs the schedule to sell the programs to a tour operator, such as the American Automobile Association, in order to promote it.
But she said that would have needed to happen in the late fall or winter.
Olive Jones, who owns a jewelry shop in downtown Portland, said she finds the situation frustrating.
"I know it's starting back up but then you try to find anything about it and you can't find anything about it," she said.
Portland business owners hope once the ferry begins making the rounds for the summer, their quiet terminal will transform into a bustling travel hub.
Nova Star Cruises said it expects more than 100,000 passengers to board the ferry between Yarmouth and Maine in the first year.
The new ferry is expected in Yarmouth April 15. It will then set off to Portland for three weeks where some last-minute finishing touches to the ferry will be completed.
Nova Star Cruises expects to start advertising prices this weekend and selling tickets next week.