The warm hospitality, beautiful beaches and rich heritage in the southwestern region of Nova Scotia often draws thousands of tourists each summer, but with border restrictions and uncertainties due to the pandemic, there will not be the visitors as usual.
Colton LeBlanc, the Progressive Conservative MLA for Argyle-Barrington, says that operators who rely on the revenue from the summer season are worried about the absence of visitors, and the lack of a plan. With tourism a key economic driver in Nova Scotia, he knows operators across the province are feeling the pinch too.
“Residents and tourist operators need a plan as southwestern Nova Scotians are concerned about the ferry service between Yarmouth and Maine,” said LeBlanc. “Other than a passing request to buy local, they’re not hearing anything from the government.”
The absence of a tourism industry plan in response to COVID-19 has left many unanswered questions and uncertainty.
“Although I hoped that the ferry would be successful this year, this is an unprecedented situation. We can all agree that if it will put Nova Scotians’ lives at risk that it shouldn’t run in the middle of a pandemic. Regardless of the decision, the government needs to provide a concrete plan to tourism operators to ensure that southwestern Nova Scotia has a viable tourism season due to the expected challenges this year,” said LeBlanc.
Those calls have been echoed in other parts of the province over the past month. In May, Leader Tim Houston and the Nova Scotia PC Caucus proposed support for the tourism and hospitality industry including a $200 per person hospitality tax credit to spend in Nova Scotia. They would also use the $2 million slated for ferry ads in New England, to instead promote tourism in Nova Scotia to Nova Scotians.
LeBlanc is looking to Hon. Geoff MacLellan, Minister of Tourism, for answers.
“The challenges facing Nova Scotian tourist operators this season are unprecedented,'' said LeBlanc. “Minister MacLellan is responsible for issuing a plan for the tourism sector with guidelines and expectations for industry support.”
“They’re welcome to use the ideas put forward in our plan. Let’s work together.”