Nova Scotia has earmarked $18.2 million toward restarting the tourism industry, which has been struggling after a more than a year of COVID-19.
“COVID-19 has been challenging for all Nova Scotians and businesses. The tourism and accommodations industry has been one of the hardest hit sectors,” said Labi Kousoulis, minister of Inclusive Economic Growth, and the minister responsible for Tourism Nova Scotia, in a news briefing Tuesday morning.
“A strong tourism season will be an important part of the province’s economic recovery.”
Of the new funding, $10.5 million will go toward a customer attraction program to give marketing help to tourism accommodations, like hotels and motels, to encourage overnight stays. Eligible operators will receive a grant of $1,000 per room for the first 10 rooms, and $500 for each additional room.
Another $2 million will go to a program geared toward small tourism operators, which offers a one-time grant of $5,000 for tourism businesses that were affected by COVID-19 restrictions, but were not eligible for earlier programs. These businesses can include tour operators, amusement and theme parks, zoos, gardens, campgrounds and travel agencies.
The grant aims to help those businesses with advertising and other expenses, like purchasing personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.
He said those two programs, administered by Tourism Nova Scotia, open for applications on June 23, when the province is expected to reopen to the rest of Atlantic Canada.
There will also be another $3 million spent on marketing campaigns “designed to attract visitors through television advertising, videos, radio spots, social media, billboards, display ads and search marketing tactics.” This will include advertising in jurisdictions like Ontario and Quebec, “when appropriate,” a provincial release said.
Currently, the province is on track to reopen to the rest of Canada by July 14.
A new $1-million Atlantic Canada marketing campaign, called Do More, launched Tuesday. The campaign aims “to remind Atlantic Canadians that because Nova Scotia has so much to offer, it deserves more than one trip.”
Another $1.3 million is for the Rediscover Nova Scotia campaign, which encourages more Nova Scotians to tour within their own province.
“We want people to continue travelling around the province and exploring our communities,” said Kousoulis, noting that many Nova Scotians opted for staycations last year.
And a new $150,000 campaign called #ShineOnTourism asks Nova Scotians to be “ambassadors” for the province and “offer their world-famous hospitality to help the tourism industry.”
The new advertising spending brings the total spent on marketing campaigns to $5.8 million.
Free admission to museums, art galleries
The last chunk of money will be spent on funding public attractions. The province said $2 million will be used to sponsor outdoor events — like concerts, craft markets, cultural events and open street events — through the Nova Scotia COVID-19 Response Council.
A further $710,000 will cover free admission in July and August to the 28 sites included in the Nova Scotia Museum system, as well as the two Art Gallery of Nova Scotia sites in Halifax and Yarmouth.
“We want everyone in the province to take advantage of the province’s many museums during their travels,” said Kousoulis.
In the release, the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia said it welcomes the funding in the tourism sector, which lost $1.6 billion in revenue in 2020.
“This strategic investment in the tourism industry will get main streets moving around the province,” board chair Judy Saunders said in a release.