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The Chronicle Herald

The Numbers Do Matter

January 9, 2010

Transportation infrastructure plays a critical role in Nova Scotia’s Tourism Industry. Air, rail, ground and water are all essential modes of transportation for access into the province.

The recent announcement regarding the cancellation of ferry service into southwest Nova Scotia highlights the lack of a strategic transportation policy in the province. Nova Scotia’s ability to develop tourism and trade continues to be vulnerable as we struggle to have secure and viable access points.

The fact that no clear business case could be articulated around the economic implications along with the decision of having no ferry service highlights an even greater issue regarding the role of tourism and its place as a significant sector in the provincial economy.

The United States has been a primary market and continues to hold tremendous potential for Nova Scotia. The decline in visitors over the past few years can be attributed to many global factors, however it should be highlighted that almost 80,000 people still entered the province in 2009 via this route and this resulted in over 33 million dollars in revenue last year. The broader impact of jobs and investment from employees and suppliers has yet to be quantified, but estimates from the region put job losses in the hundreds, resulting in millions more in lost tax revenue.

Nova Scotia is spending millions to attract people to the province and at the same time making it much harder to get here. Tourism revenue last year was 1.3 billion dollars and the tourism industry employs 40,000 Nova Scotians. TIANS strongly supports responsible investment; a strategic review of ferry service and its importance to accessing markets would be most welcome. In the meantime, reducing access to the province, without any consultation or a plan to improve our ability to bring in visitors and enhance trade, is simply bad business.

The infrastructure required to get people into Nova Scotia and move trade is crucial to our long term prosperity. We need a model for inter-modal travel that will best serve visitors to our province and grow tourism receipts. The condition of our roads, our signage policies, our ability to take advantage of open-skies agreements by attracting new airlines, and our use of rail and ferry access are all part of a broader transportation discussion that should be taking place in support of Nova Scotia’s tourism industry.

The numbers do matter.