One of the mainstay industries in the province is in decline, which should cause concern for everyone in Nova Scotia.
Last year the province welcomed an estimated 1.8 million visitors, a figure that was down three per cent compared to 2012.
While three per cent may not seem like a great number, when combined with a trend of year-over-year declines of one and two per cent, those numbers begin to stack up.
It is increasingly important to our local economy, which is not just our tourism operators but supporting businesses, that an aggressive marketing campaign be in place to lure travellers here to spend their precious dollars.
The Central Nova Tourist Association has been lobbying for a marketing levy, which would be added to the cost of room rentals at local hotels and motels that offer more than 10 units. The idea is that those funds (approximately $2 per room, per stay) would be collected and reinvested into tourism and event marketing and promotions.
Local municpalities have been approached in an effort to garner support for the levy. However, at the last Colchester County Council meeting, the municipality opted not to support the levy. One concern expressed by council is that the county was being asked to collect and administer the levy from the various accommodation sites and then turn the funds over to the tourism industry.
As well, some councillors said they had spoken with hotel owners who also expressed concerns with the levy proposal.
Council ultimately decided not to support the levy, choosing instead to wait for a provincial study being conducted on the issue.
Meanwhile the Town the Truro has established an active tourism committee and is in the process of engaging partners in the region to work on re-branding and marketing.
The group is bringing together several municipal, industry and business stakeholders as another method for boosting the local tourism market share.
The issue is certainly one that should be looked at and addressed. But as with Colchester County’s decision, perhaps it is in everyone’s best interest to wait for the conclusion of the provincial study, which indeed could include the adoption of a levy.