Nova Star numbers worse than last year

Numbers released by Nova Star Cruises, Tuesday evening, show passenger numbers for the Nova Star are worse than in its 2014 inaugural sailing season. Quest Navigation

HALIFAX – The Nova Star ferry is seeing worse passenger counts in the 2015 sailing season than it did in it’s inaugural 2014 season.

Numbers released late Tuesday show the passenger count for the first three months of this year is down six per cent, compared with last year. In a brief statement, released with the numbers, Nova Star Cruises called the passenger count”disappointing.”

The total number of passengers from June to August was 37,800. For the same time period last year, that number was 40,347.

The release shows some growth in international passengers. Compared with the first three months of last year’s sailing season, numbers this year are up six per cent. So far the total number of international passengers in this year’s sailing season is 31,150.

The number of Canadian passengers in 2015 has fallen dramatically, from 10,999 in the first three months of last year’s sailing season to 6,650 this year. The company attributes the 40 per cent drop in Canadian passengers to the loonie’s plunge in value, compared with the American dollar.

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At the beginning of the 2015 sailing season, Nova Star Cruises set a goal of 80,000 passengers this year, compared with 59,000 last year. However, that doesn’t look likely now that the busiest three months of the season saw a decline in passenger numbers.

On Friday, Nova Scotia Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan said he didn’t expect the passenger numbers for the 2015 sailing season to be better than 2014. The Nova Star is in the 59,000 range for 2015, said MacLellan. “We can’t say for sure, but it’s certainly not far surpassing that number based on what we’re seeing at this point.”

Nova Star Cruises had to reissue its passenger report after inconsistencies were found with the total passenger numbers released on Tuesday, and those released in previous updates. However, the updated numbers, released about an hour later, showed no significant difference in the total numbers or in the trends.

So far the Liberal government has spent $38.1 million on the embattled ferry service. When it was first launched, the government planned to spend a total of $21 million in the service’s first seven years.

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