Video outlines vision for potential complex on Sydney’s waterfront
Cautioning that he’s not yet ready to make an announcement, the CEO of Ambassatours Grey Line nonetheless has unveiled a brief video outlining his company’s vision for a potential complex on Sydney’s waterfront.
Dennis Campbell screened the conceptual video, which he said was finished just days ago, at Thursday’s Ports Day conference at the Joan Harris Cruise Pavilion.
The complex, which would be built in stages should it become a reality, would include a bar, patio, restaurant and gift shop in the area where the Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club used to stand, similar to Murphy’s on the Water on the Halifax waterfront, which Campbell’s company also owns.
“The reason that we didn’t call it an announcement is because it is a vision,” Campbell said, in an interview. “It’s part of our 10-year growth strategy of our company and it’s hard for us to say exactly a date yet because there are a lot of moving pieces to it.” He said it’s hoped that work could be underway on it in three to six years.
While he said he’s been interested in expanding into the Sydney market for some time, it was the announcement of federal and provincial funding for the second cruise ship berth that really made the company look at the area, Campbell said.
“With the cruise growth that’s coming to Sydney, we want to follow the public investment and invest when the time is right and we think the right time is coming up soon,” he said.
“(The second berth) was kind of the key for us to say, OK, let’s start to invest time and energy and money on developing these plans.”
There is no estimated cost of the development at this early stage and no business plan has yet been drafted, although Campbell said it is in the works. It may be far from a reality at this point, but Campbell’s presentation evoked a good deal of interest from the crowd, with several people waiting to speak with him after his presentation.
In April, Ambassatours, which is based in Halifax, received approval from the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to operate its Harbour Hoppers amphibious tours in Sydney for the months of September and October to coincide with the island’s prime tourism season. Campbell said two of the vehicles will operate in Sydney.
As well, he said, as Halifax Transit replaces its existing fleet of harbour ferries the vessels currently in service will be available for sale at what Campbell described as a good price. He said he has viewed a model in Quebec where money has been invested into those former ferries and transformed into vessels suitable for breakfast or brunch cruises, party, corporate or wedding events. He said they are in active discussions trying to obtain one of the vessels.
The ferry plan could be put into action as early as summer 2018, Campbell said.
Appealing to the local market as well as tourists would also be important, he said, to make the complex sustainable. He noted about half of the Harbour Hoppers’ business is from the local market.
Bernadette MacNeil, manager of cruise ship marketing and development, noted that while shore excursions offered in Cape Breton are rated highly by cruise visitors, those who choose to stay in downtown Sydney often comment that there is little to do and developments such as the Ambassatours proposal would help improve that visitor experience.
Dennis Campbell, the CEO of Ambassatours Grey Line, told Ports Day in Sydney Thursday that is company is developing a plan that could see a bar, patio, restaurant and gift shop complex build up the offerings available to visitors to the Sydney waterfront area.