Grant MacDonald, from the newly launched Nova Scotia Tourism Agency (NSTA), presented the long-term strategy and identified travellers, as opposed to tourists, as the target.
“The ideal target is the outdoor enthusiast, someone who is seeking outdoor activities. When they’re finished the activity they want a good culinary experience,” he said.
“Additionally these are people that are seeking out cultural opportunities.”
The campaign, to roll out next month , will focus on first time visitors. MacDonald said they tend to spend more time, more money and seek a greater variety of experiences.
Statistics show that since 2010, 81 per cent of travellers are returning visitors and 19 per cent are first-time visitors. The smaller percentage has been dropping since 1992, with the most dramatic fall between 2004 and 2010.
“We want to make sure we protect that largest piece of the pie, but at the same time we need to identify how to grow that smaller wedge,” said MacDonald.
“This is the area that we could realize the most growth and generate new and incremental revenue and profitability for the industry, province-wide.”
“We are a province of slightly less than one-million. We want to be attracting more than twice our population and in order to do that we need to work better together. We know we can’t continue to operate the way we’ve been operating,” said MacDonald.
A positive figure he shared is that there has been a nine per cent drop in long-term visits to Nova Scotia since 2000, compared to 18 per cent in Canada overall. He told the stakeholders that international tourism is up.
The goal is to set Nova Scotia apart from emerging markets by finding new opportunities and new reasons for people to select it as their destination.
New experiences must be woven together to provide people with a full and well-rounded travel experience as opposed to them getting out of their vehicle, taking a couple of pictures and getting back in.
This can be done by watching the lobster they’re about to dine on being off-loaded from the boat, or visiting a winery to see the process involved with growing grapes to ensure the quality they are seeking.
“We are a province of slightly less than one-million. We want to be attracting more than twice our population and in order to do that we need to work better together. We know we can’t continue to operate the way we’ve been operating.” - Grant MacDonald (Nova Scotia Tourism Agency)
An important pillar in the five set by the agency for growth is improved access to Nova Scotia and throughout the province.
“Universally, this is the one area where we hurt the most in the nine regional focus groups that we held last August. Certainly and most significantly the Yarmouth ferry has been identified as an opportunity,” said MacDonald.
Leadership and collaboration are other pillars. He pointed out the importance of treating lines on a map as just those. Instead, have communities work together on opportunities. The collaboration between Yarmouth, Digby, and Liverpool in staging hockey’s World Junior A Challenge was used as an example.
Stakeholders are being reminded that everybody in the province has a role to play, as well as responsibilities, in order to benefit.
Evidence-based decision making; higher quality products and experiences; improved access; and inspirational strategic marketing are remaining pillars in the NSTA strategy.
Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes, mid-Atlantic and New England states, the United Kingdom and Germany will be targeted by digital means when the campaign is launched.
“We know that we have to connect to potential customers across the platforms that they are using. Fewer people are taking maps or printed materials as part of their travel experiences. People are using Smart phones, tablets and connecting in more ways,” said MacDonald.
The tourism café was organized by the Destination Southwest Nova Association
NSTA, described as a partnership between government and industry, will be headquartered in Windsor.
Its responsibilities and functions include sales, marketing and partnerships, product and experience development and market research and intelligence.