As the MLA for Colchester North, and in my duties as a provincial cabinet minister, I have been incredibly fortunate to represent my constituents in the legislative assembly.
A recent article by CNN placed Nova Scotia on their list of most desirable places to visit this summe (See CNN List). We know that our province is brimming with unique sights and attractions, scenic trails, plentiful historic sites, and incredible beauty from one corner to the other. However, it is nice to be recognized for something we already know, and the province has worked hard to move Nova Scotia from a vacation haven to a prominent tourism destination. With our population at an all-time high at 966,858, our unemployment rate nearing the lowest rate on record at 6.6 per cent, and more Nova Scotians working full-time than ever before, it instills pride in all of us to say we are Nova Scotians.
Since 2013, tourism numbers have increased by about 500,000 visitors a year. In fact, last year was Nova Scotia’s best tourism revenue year on record, with an estimated $2.61 billion in revenue with an increase in visitors by air, and a 15 per cent growth in tourists coming from overseas. Our tourism industry is on the move. The high tides of the Bay of Fundy, the historic grounds of Citadel Hill, or right here in our community at the Masstown Market, our province is continuing to show that every corner of Nova Scotia has something appealing to offer to our visitors.
The province is always looking for innovative ways to support our tourism industry. Tourism Nova Scotia recently teamed up with Food Network Canada to showcase our province’s exceptional and unique culinary scene. A new show called Big Food Bucket List will be featuring much-talked-about local eateries in Nova Scotia, including our community’s very own Sugar Moon Farm in Earltown. Just last summer, the province introduced the Tourism Revitalization of Icons Program. An investment of $6 million is available to upgrading some of our province’s most iconic tourism sites, including Peggys Cove, the Lunenburg waterfront, Bay of Fundy, the Cabot Trail, and the Halifax Waterfront, including Georges and McNabs Island.
But while maintaining popular tourist attractions is fundamental, so is ensuring that the towns and cities along the way offer more than just being a convenient stop to grab a bite to eat. Through our province’s annual Beautification and Streetscaping Program, municipalities can apply to receive funding for community upgrades and projects focusing on renewal and revitalization of local infrastructure. In May 2019 the province invested $500,000 into 27 beautification projects across the province that will create more inviting public spaces for residents and tourists alike. Visitors will now be spending tourism dollars, supporting the local businesses and hotel industry, and contributing to job growth while gaining a memorable vacation experience.
Every fibre of Nova Scotia has an obvious charm to offer visitors. To highlight that untapped potential, the province recently created the #NovaScotiaUNLISTED content, inviting Nova Scotians to share photos of their favourite lesser-known places in our province — the hidden gems. While helping to promote Nova Scotia on social media, it also engages us to really take a second look at the sights and sounds of our province.
The province will continue to find ways to support our growing tourism industry and help achieve the Ivany Report goal of $4 billion in tourism revenue by 2024. Our numbers are showing that we’re on the right track—Nova Scotia is a vibrant hub in the travel sector, with plenty to offer our visitors. We are being recognized outside of our province and our country. Let’s all stand proud of what we have accomplished and continue to support our communities, villages and towns.
There would be no prouder Nova Scotian than Rev. Morley Bentley. A recent community event in his honour was a true testament to the respect that he has both locally and around the province. I met personally with Morley and our conversation was delightful, insightful and in true Morley fashion filled with wit and humour. He holds in his memory many great stories of people he has met through his time in public schools as a teacher, in the church as a pastor, and in the community as a volunteer. I offered congratulations and appreciation to him. He is proud of Nova Scotia and we are proud of him.
Karen Casey, MLA