Tourism planning advances with Guysborough workshop

By Katherine Murphy    

GUYSBOROUGH – Guysborough-area tourism operators gathered at the Chedabucto Lifestyle Complex on Feb. 26 for the third in a series of workshops by the new local Tourism Strategy Committee.

Attendees heard from the senior management team of Tourism Nova Scotia (TNS) and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS). The first two workshops – in Larry’s River and Sherbrooke -- focused on developing local tourism goals, and this Guysborough event was to provide more insights into the provincial tourism environment and opportunities available to local operators.

Tourism Nova Scotia CEO Michele Saran discussed the organization’s marketing strategy and goal to grow tourism from a $2.7 billion dollar industry into a four billion dollar industry by 2024.

“Doing things the same way, brings the same results,” she said of the need to innovate in the industry. TNS is a private sector-led provincial Crown corporation with a mandate to grow the province’s tourism industry and maximize the value of tourism to Nova Scotia’s economy.

Saran highlighted the importance of creating experiences for visitors, explaining that experiences set a tourism enterprise apart, grows demand, and increases revenue –- higher value experiences encourage longer stays.

Anna Moran, TNS’s director of research and policy, shared results from exit surveys completed by visitors to the Eastern Shore region. She emphasized the importance of properly valuing experiences, and noted that the prices businesses set are not meant to attract members of the community, but to attract economic boosts from outside our region.

TIANS representatives discussed training programs offered to their members and opportunities available through the Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council. The association has programs that attract and train employees, and offers certification and scholarships, among other resources.

Members of Destination Eastern and Northumberland Shores (DEANS) tourism development group shared an update on the success of the Wild Islands Tourism Advancement Partnership currently underway. This initiative aims to position and advance Musquodoboit Harbour to Sherbrooke as a dynamic new in-demand destination offering the best-designed touring, outdoor and nature infrastructure and experiences in Nova Scotia. Thanks to a recent federal funding contribution for related tourism initiatives, assistance may be available to eligible enterprises through the partnership.

Stephen Flemming, executive director of Sherbrooke Village, discussed the new approach to economic development in St. Mary’s, including tourism development, that is the Rural Institute for Cultural Heritage and Environmental Sustainability, based out of Sherbrooke Village Museum. The institute plans to focus on experiential learning and offering training for rural community development.

John Beaton, CEO of the Eastern-Strait Regional Enterprise Network (ESREN) emceed the workshop. Flemming closed the event, informing attendees that the next committee meeting will take place mid-March.