Tourism num­bers hold steady

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY CHRIS SHAN­NON CAPE BRE­TON POST cshan­non@cb­

Cape Bre­ton tourism op­er­a­tors main­tain same level of room-nights sold in 2009 as pre­vi­ous year: Depart­ment of Tourism, Cul­ture and Her­itage.

SYD­NEY — Cape Bre­ton tourism op­er­a­tors main­tained the same level of room-nights sold in 2009 than in the pre­vi­ous year.

Ac­com­mo­da­tion ac­tiv­ity de­clined in ev­ery other re­gion in the prov­ince, rang­ing from one per cent in the Fundy and An­napo­lis re­gions to 10 per cent de­cline on the east­ern shore.

The statis­tics, com­piled by the Depart­ment of Tourism, Cul­ture and Her­itage, proved the is­land han­dled the down­turn in the econ­omy well de­spite a small mar­ket­ing bud­get, Des­ti­na­tion Cape Bre­ton As­so­ci­a­tion CEO Mary Tulle said.

“The fact (Cape Bre­ton) re­mains on the radar screen and is the only area in Nova Sco­tia that held its own, I think that speaks vol­umes about the des­ti­na­tion it­self,” Tulle said.

Over­all room-nights sold in the prov­ince fell by four per cent or 97,000 room-nights in 2009.

This is likely re­lated to higher vis­i­tor vol­umes from mar­kets closer to home, the depart­ment stated in its year-end re­port. On the whole, vis­its to the prov­ince rose by one per cent, or about 2.1 mil­lion vis­its.

The Tourism Depart­ment cites a 20 per cent in­crease in vis­its in July, sup­ported by ma­jor events such as the Tall Ships Fes­ti­val.

“Al­though Nova Sco­tia gained vis­i­tors from At­lantic Canada and On­tario, trip lengths from th­ese mar­kets tend to be shorter than those from far­ther away, lead­ing to fewer nights stayed,” it read.

Des­ti­na­tion Cape Bre­ton, the re­gional tourism body for the is­land, is in the process of de­vel­op­ing a Cape Bre­ton travel plan­ner for vis­i­tors from cen­tral Canada.

“There will be a (brochure) drop in our On­tario and Que­bec mar­kets and that dis­tri­bu­tion is 250,000,” Tulle said. “We want to get into the house­holds of our tar­get de­mo­graph­ics of those that we feel would look at Cape Bre­ton as a travel des­ti­na­tion.”

Vis­i­tor num­bers from On­tario in­creased by five per cent, but Que­bec tourists de­clined by three per cent. There was also a six per cent de­cline in vis­i­tors from west­ern Canada.

The num­ber of U.S. tourists con­tin­ued its de­cline by three per cent, or 6,500 vis­its, in 2009. Since 2000, Amer­i­can vis­its have de­clined 42 per cent or about 135,000 vis­its.

Tulle said she’ll be looking to move for­ward with the is­land mar­ket­ing levy once it’s pro­claimed by the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment. Only In­ver­ness County voted against sign­ing on to the levy, which will add a 1.5 per cent tax to rooms at ho­tels, mo­tels and inns.

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