Tourism, one of Nova Scotia’s most important economic sectors, is poised for record growth in 2016.
Tourism businesses benefited from a seven per cent increase in non-resident overnight visitors (up 23,000) this July compared to last, bringing year-to-date visitation totals to about 1,155,100 visitors, an increase of eight per cent compared with the same period in 2015.
“This was our busiest July since opening in 1989,” said James LeFresne, owner-operator of The Train Station Inn, Tatamagouche. “We were at capacity nearly every night and we had strong sales in our restaurant, gift shop and café.”
Looking at Canada, the largest increase in non-resident overnight visitation in July came from Ontario (up 9,900), followed by Atlantic Canada (up 3,900) and Quebec (up 2,900). Visitation from the United States increased by 6,100. Visitation from the United Kingdom was down by 1,200 against a very strong 2015.
July visitation by air and road each increased by seven per cent compared with July 2015. Year-to-date visitation by road is up nine per cent, while visitation by air is up four per cent.
“We’re thrilled with the results so far this year and we’re especially happy to see an increase in air visitation,” said Michele Saran, CEO, Tourism Nova Scotia. “Air visitors spend more and we’ll need more of them if Nova Scotia is going to reach its goal of $4 billion in tourism revenues by 2024.”
There were 374,000 room nights sold in July, an increase of six per cent compared to the same period in 2015. The occupancy rate increased by two percentage points to 63 per cent. Halifax sold the most room nights (164,000), followed by Cape Breton (80,000) and Bay of Fundy and Annapolis Valley (55,000).
Tourism revenues for July 2016 are estimated to be $362 million, bringing year-to-date July tourism revenues to $1.3 billion.