Nova Scotia

Tourism Nova Scotia launches ads targeting locals, with Maritime campaign right behind

Tourism Nova Scotia's new campaign aims to encourage people to explore their home province this summer, as tourism operators struggle in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

'Get the blazes out there and have fun,' premier says in one campaign ad

Tourism Nova Scotia's new campaign aims to encourage people to explore their home province this summer, as tourism operators struggle in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Tourism Nova Scotia)

Nova Scotians can expect to see advertisements with familiar landmarks this summer, urging them to rediscover their home province.

On Thursday, Crown corporation Tourism Nova Scotia launched a $1.5-million campaign to encourage Nova Scotians to travel locally and support local businesses, many of which have been hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This comes just a day after the four Atlantic provinces agreed to open their borders to each other on July 3.

The organization said it's been ready for the prospect of an Atlantic bubble and will start airing ads on July 3 in New Brunswick and P.E.I. to let people know Nova Scotia is open for business.

"To every Nova Scotian out there, please go out there and support local businesses and book your vacation now," said Michele Saran, CEO of Tourism Nova Scotia.

'Appeal to the heart'

Saran said the Atlantic bubble is critical for tourism in the province, but the ads will only target the Maritimes for now. An additional $1 million has been invested in targeting New Brunswick and P.E.I., as people there can more easily reach Nova Scotia by car.

In May, the organization said the tourism industry in Nova Scotia was bracing itself for a loss of at least $1 billion in 2020.

The Rediscover Nova Scotia ads aim to highlight the "incredible things" people can do in the province and feature a cover of the song Somewhere Over the Rainbow by local musician Jennah Barry.

Joann Fitzgerald, chief marketing officer of Tourism Nova Scotia, said the hope was to "appeal first to the heart" and evoke feelings of nostalgia with the slogan, "There's no place like home."

"We know that Nova Scotians really, truly love this province," Fitzgerald said. "Given the tough times that Nova Scotia has been through in the last number of months, we knew that emotion and reminding people that we're strong and this is the place they love.... That is the essence behind it."

Premier Stephen McNeil is featured in one of the campaign videos, with a new take on the "stay the blazes home" message he issued in early April as the virus began to take hold in Nova Scotia.

"And most importantly, get the blazes out there and have fun," McNeil said in the video.

Saran said tourism operators are busy "revving up" for the Atlantic bubble, an effort that includes new safety protocols and changes to cancellation policies.

"It's really just to give visitors that sense of comfort that their visit is going to be a safe one here in Nova Scotia," she said.

Tourism Nova Scotia is also working to reopen visitor information centres around the province, but they too have been retrofitted to comply with public health protocols.

Saran said there will be Plexiglas separating staff from guests, floor markers to indicate physical distancing and a limited number of people allowed in each centre.

Some centres have done a soft reopening this week, including in Amherst near the border, Peggys Cove and Port Hastings.

People will also no longer be able to thumb through local brochures, but can choose from a display which ones they would like to take and will be given them from behind the desk.

Fitzgerald said the campaign will continue into the fall and winter as well.

"The challenges that COVID presented is not going to end with the summer," she said during the campaign announcement.