Column Spotlight: Tourism Connection - Darlene Grant Fiander

Darlene Grant Fiander
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TOPIC - It’s time to show tourism 'the love'

Darlene Grant Fiander - Tourism Connection

(Originally published in the July 2012 issue of the Nova Scotia Business Journal)

At a time when countries all over the world are waking up to the value and opportunity a healthy tourism industry can have for their struggling economies, Canada has taken a step backwards.

In March, the federal government announced cuts to the Canadian Tourism Commission, the body responsible for marketing Canada, which will see a reduction in 2013 to $58.5 million. This steady reduction, down from $100 million a decade ago, is greatly contributing to Canada’s eroding international market share. To put things in perspective, 10 years ago 35 per cent of tourism revenue in Canada came from the international market; today it is down to only 20 per cent.

In comparison, as the United States finds a renewed love for tourism, it is investing millions to keep Americans home and an additional $20 million this year to convince Canadians to join them. By now many of you have seen the Brand USA campaigns encouraging us to cross the border and spend our money there.

As well as not being competitive from a marketing perspective, Canada has become one of the most expensive destinations for air travel in the world. As I mentioned in a previous column, last year over five million Canadians went to the U.S. to purchase cheaper airline tickets, in many cases to fly to other parts of Canada.  

While these national issues work themselves out, at a provincial level we need to do what we can to open up access into the province and encourage business.

The recent announcement by the provincial government to establish an expert panel to review the research on ferry service into southwest Nova Scotia was welcome news; however, every day with limited access into the province we continue to lose business. The reality is that numerous jobs have been lost — ferry workers, dockyard workers — hotels have closed as have many small businesses. This was not just a ferry to Nova Scotia, it was highway to the United States, one of the most lucrative markets in the world.

For rural revitalization this access point is key. It is time to reestablish a link to the United States and get back to building trade and tourism into the province. With a new business model that is integrated and supported by existing marketing efforts, this could be the beginning of renewed interest in the Nova Scotia destination. Now is the time.

Darlene Grant Fiander is the president of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia and executive director of the Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council. Darlene has worked in the tourism industry for over 25 years. You can reach Darlene at



Organizations: Nova Scotia Business Journal, Canadian Tourism Commission, Brand USA Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council

Geographic location: Canada, United States, Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • Earlene Busch
    July 09, 2012 - 17:32

    A very succinct article outlining the isses facing the tourism industry in Nova Scotia. As a major provider of jobs, especially in rural Nova Scotia, it is the lifeblood of many communities. It is axiomatic that this major export industry needs marketing support in a global and highly competitive market space.

  • Danny Morton
    July 06, 2012 - 13:21

    Thank you for your article. I am always amazed when decisions are made in challenging times such as the ones you highlight. When competition is growing and a global battle to capture market share of the travelling public ensues, to decrease contribution and our ability to be a part of the conversation alongside other destinations, seems absurd. To continuously ignore the challenges of access and to be aware of, yet simply let opportunities slip away, is by definition negligent. It is time to change how the issues are being discussed. It is time to ensure all understand the impact of the lost business being perpetuated by these decisions being made on our behalf.

  • Nicholas Carson
    July 06, 2012 - 12:22

    It is clear from their actions in cutting budgets and services that neither the Federal nor the Provincial Government fully appreciate the value of Tourism to the economy of this Province or this Country. By "strangling" access to our tourism product through the high cost of air travel (Government Taxes and Fees add up to 50% on air fares), the reduction in Marketing efforts or the abandonment of ferry routes - all are symptomatic of the lack of recognition that Tourism to our region, in decades to come, could generate tremendous revenue and job opportunities. Pity.