Nova Scotia

No decision on Nova Scotia's resorts

Nova Scotia's tourism minister says he won't make any hasty decisions about three provincially owned resorts that are in desperate need of upgrades and repairs.

Nova Scotia's tourism minister says he won't make any hasty decisions about three provincially owned resorts that are in desperate need of upgrades and repairs.

Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa, Liscombe Lodge Resort and Conference Centre, and Keltic Lodge Resort and Spa in Cape Breton have been losing money.

Occupancy rates have dropped below 50 per cent in the last two years.

In January, the provincial government issued a call for proposals to find ways to keep the seasonal resorts open. Four companies, including the current operator, responded.

Eight months later, the fate of the resorts remains up in the air.

Tourism Minister Percy Paris dismisses opposition claims that the lack of government action is hurting the resorts.

"It's been years of neglect  –- 10, 15, 20 years of neglect," he said Thursday.

"This is such an important issue for all Nova Scotians. It's not something that I'm about to rush into. I'm going to take my time, I'm going to do this right."

In March, Paris estimated the three resorts needed upgrades worth between $11 million and $15 million. He said they could use a number of new things, from televisions to curtains.

"At the time I said that I know there's some cosmetic things that need to be done with the resorts. Once we prioritize things then it would be my role as minister to put it forward to my colleagues," he said Thursday.

Paris won't say why he didn't make a request to cabinet before the summer tourism season.

Each resort employs about 300 people over the summer-fall season. Paris said he didn't know how the three resorts are faring so far.

Overall, the number of visitors to Nova Scotia in the first six months of 2011 was down three per cent over the same period last year.

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