Nova Scotia

Tourism operators offer province input ahead of reopening strategy release

Some tourism operators told the province they need certainty about reopening targets or dates as soon as possible to ensure a successful 2021 tourism season. 

Operators were invited to a meeting with provincial officials on Thursday afternoon

Earlier this month, the provincial government announced the opening of provincial parks that were set to welcome campers on May 21 would be pushed back to at least June 1. (Robson Fletcher/CBC)

Tourism operators had a chance to give input Thursday on Nova Scotia's reopening strategy prior to its public release planned for Friday. 

Some told the province they need certainty about reopening targets or dates as soon as possible to ensure a successful 2021 tourism season. 

"Without those targets in place, I fear we're going to miss another year of tourism in Nova Scotia, and that's very concerning," said Dennis Campbell, the CEO of Ambassatours and Murphys on the Water. 

Campbell was one of a group of tourism operators invited to a virtual meeting with provincial officials, including chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang and Labi Kousoulis, minister of inclusive economic growth and minister responsible for Tourism Nova Scotia. 

"They confirmed that there is still time for them to take the input and adjust accordingly," said Campbell of the reopening strategy. 

Campbell's top priorities included a framework for reopening borders. 

Ambassatours says it has hired some staff in anticipation of the season and they are ready to go with a week's notice. (Tourism Nova Scotia)

"We hope for, at a very minimum, the Atlantic bubble. But as we look at the various other provinces, [they're] starting to look at opening up to the rest of Canada," he said. 

He also wants the province to start making plans to open to visitors who are fully vaccinated. 

"The epidemiology suggests that if you're fully vaccinated, you're safe," he said.  

Short window for seasonal business

The association that represents private campground owners was also invited to the meeting.

Last week, the province said private campgrounds can only open for seasonal campers, and short-term camping is not permitted.

Shane Devenish, the executive director of the Campground Owners Association of Nova Scotia, said the announcement came just a few days before the Victoria Day weekend, which in normal years would be an important date for campers. 

"Last week caught everybody off guard, by surprise," he said.

"It caused a tremendous negative impact to the private campgrounds' business because they had taken all these reservations, pretty much for the first part of the year for that weekend. And then they had to go ahead and cancel everything." 

Devenish said the meeting went well and he felt the province was receptive to their point that seasonal businesses have a short window of summer to make money. 

"Every day that we're forced to close is days that we'll never get back, so we stressed that point," he said. 

Strang and Premier Iain Rankin are expected to announce details of the province's reopening plan during Friday's COVID-19 briefing. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shaina Luck

Reporter

Shaina Luck is a reporter with CBC Nova Scotia. She has worked with national network programs, the CBC's Atlantic Investigative Unit, and the University of King's College school of journalism. Email: shaina.luck@cbc.ca

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