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Yarmouth and Acadian Shores says region saw continued growth in 2018 with 72,000 room nights

A drive out to the Cape Forchu lighthouse always makes for a nice visit. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
A drive out to the Cape Forchu lighthouse always makes for a nice visit. TINA COMEAU PHOTO - Tina Comeau

Ferry service, April film production added to 9 per cent increase in rooms nights over 2017

YARMOUTH, N.S. —

Promotion of the night skies in the YASTA region is something that is pushed to tourists on social media.
Promotion of the night skies in the YASTA region is something that is pushed to tourists on social media.

Fewer tourists in the province last year did not translate into less tourism revenue.

Despite a modest decline in tourism visitation in Nova Scotia in 2018, it was the best tourism revenue year on record, says Tourism Nova Scotia.

According to a media release, revenues reached an estimated $2.61 billion, which was a 0.3 per cent increase from the previous year.

Tourism Nova Scotia says about 2,413,000 non-resident overnight visitors came to Nova Scotia last year. This was 0.8 per cent, or 19,500, fewer visitors than in 2017 which saw the highest visitation in Nova Scotia's history. Visitation has increased by 27 per cent or 500,000 more visitors compared with 2013.

Neil MacKenzie, executive director of YASTA (Yarmouth and Acadian Shores Tourism Association) is not surprised that visitation was down slightly last year.

“I think it’s natural that 2018 was a little flat compared to 2017,” he says, pointing out 2017 was the Canada 150 year, which generated lots of visits.

But he says tourism continues to move in the right direction and the fact that revenue continues to climb bodes well for the industry.

He points out that the YASTA region saw a nine per cent increase in room nights sold in 2018 compared to 2017.

“We had 72,000 room nights. I’m tracking data back to 2010, we certainly haven’t seen room nights anywhere near that for that timeframe,” he says.

He attributes the increase to The Cat ferry that runs between Nova Scotian and Maine and also to the movie ‘The Lighthouse’ which was filmed in Yarmouth last spring.

“April was huge for us,” he says. “I think next year we’ll see growth, but we may not see as much room night growth.”

Asked if YASTA is directing targeting marketing in Bar Harbor this year – the new US port for The Cat – MacKenzie says the eastern United States, New England, Ontario and Quebec remain the biggest markets for the region.

“What we want to do is create interest in visiting Yarmouth and Acadian Shores and Nova Scotia, and then we tell them how to get here,” he says, adding YASTA does expect to be on the ground directly in Bar Harbor from time-to-time with some pop-up information centres and its Summer Escape Tusket Ford vehicle.

YASTA's Instagram promotion of the region's cuisine, seaside experiences, Acadian culture and architectural heritage.
YASTA's Instagram promotion of the region's cuisine, seaside experiences, Acadian culture and architectural heritage.

Asked what things YASTA highlights as selling points to visitors, MacKenzie says they align their brand with research that was commissioned by Destination Canada that helps them to focus on packaging and content that is of interest to travelers considering a visit to this area.

“Research shows that visitors who are most likely to come to our area are interested in things like lobster, seafood, beaches. They want culinary experiences. They’re very much interested in the Acadian culture and immersive experiences. And they’re very much interested in our seafaring heritage and astro tourism.”

(NOTE TO READERS: We are including examples of some of the marketing promo video YASTA has had produced.)

He says they have created tourism experiences that directly appeal to these interests. And, he adds, they’re also looking at development new experiences and tapping into new markets.

“They want to go to places like the Tusket Islands. We’re trying to develop that market.”

He says local tourism ventures have been creative in coming up with experiences that cater to the interests of tourists.

Nova Scotia's tourism industry is working to reach $4 billion in tourism revenues by 2024, a goal identified by the Ivany Commission in 2014.

"We need to attract higher spending out-of-region visitors to achieve the $4 billion goal," says Michele Saran, CEO of Tourism Nova Scotia. "That's the focus of our tourism growth strategy and these results show we're on the right track."

From YASTA’s perspective, MacKenzie points to the international ferry service as feeding into this.

“It’s not about the passenger count, it’s about the passenger spending. We know that those passengers who travel on the ferry spend more money and they stay longer so they’re a good high-yield visitor,” he says.

But how do they know this?

“Tourism Nova Scotia has collected data through their 2017 exit survey. The exit survey speaks to where visitors arrive in the province,” he says. “Most of the visitors coming through Yarmouth are coming on The Cat ferry. Those customers, when they leave the province, answer an exit survey and they provide details on their trip – where they went, how much they spent, where they entered and where they left from.”

He says the data collected points to a spend of around $2,400 to $2,600 per tourism party.

MORE EXAMPLES OF SOME OF THE PROMO VIDEOS YASTA HAS COMPILED TO HELP MARKET THE AREA:

AN EXAMPLE OF A PROMO THE PROVINCE MADE TO MARKET NOVA SCOTIA:

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