Tourism numbers hold steady
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.