Executive director Ryan MacNeil; Hants RDA.
By Christy Marsters
The Hants RDA recently launched a strategic tourism action plan for Hants County.
This plan, submitted by the Economic Planning Group of Canada, was presented in a meeting at the East Hants Resource Centre in Elmsdale on May 11 in efforts of trying to implement better ways of supporting tourism with focuses on the Bay of Fundy.
Ryan MacNeil, executive director of the Hants RDA, said tourism is important to this region but the market is changing and the need to work with key tourist sites and to increase local tourism revenues is real. “People are changing the way they vacation.”
Tourists are more about going for the weekend getaway and aren’t traveling as far as before, MacNeil noted. “Yet, this doesn’t change a lot in the Hants County market. We’re so well positioned to take in that market. We’re just going to have to be more selective in what’s going to make the most impact on tourism within Hants County.”
Tourism growth markets recognized in the plan included motorcycle touring, travel involving regional wine, cuisine or foods, women travel, travel for spiritual enlightenment, family travel, special event travel for the unique experience, celebration travel, mini-vacationing, travel to see natural environment, voluntourism and hub-spoke trips to stay in one place while scoping surroundings.
Declining markets included general sightseeing and touring vacations, extending visits with one-night stops in multiple locations, repeat vacationing to a same destination, motor coach touring and in U.S. visitors (the number of U.S. visitor went down more than 35 per cent from 2004-2008 and is not expected to recover until at least 2010.)
With three kinds tidal activity (vertical/horizontal highs and lows, along with a tidal boar) occurring twice daily in this area, MacNeil noted. “The province is doing a lot of marketing with it right now.”
To strengthen the Bay of Fundy, the provincial government has planned to revitalize the Fundy Ecotour. Other plans to increase tourism around the Bay of Fundy include an assessment of existing assets, a plan for expansions, a new set of highway signs to promote attractions, and a strong marketing plan.
The Hants RDA would also like to see enhanced marketing through more website or brochure developments, invested tourism product increases in things like arts trails or coastal trials; extended seasons and hours for existing tourist sites, and improved roadways, MacNeil said. “It’s not as noticeable here (in Windsor) but roads along the Hants County shore are deteriorating. Tourists don’t want to travel on those roads.”
Hants County has access to some of the most amazing sites of the world, but because it has been seen as stuck between the Glooscap and Evangeline trails, and as bordering the end of two tourism zones covered by Destination South West Nova and Central Nova Tourist Association, the area tends to fall off the map a bit, MacNeil noted. “We are close to both, it’s a real political challenge. But, it is important we get on that map.”
Everyone needs to work together to build on any tourism possible for Hants County and all will see the benefits from this, MacNeil added. “ That is going to make a real difference in how we look at ourselves and in how others will plan to work with us.”