TOPIC - It’s time to share our ‘best kept’ secret
Darlene Grant Fiander - Tourism Connection
(Originally published in the August 2012 issue of the Nova Scotia Business Journal)
The announcement in late June that the Landscape of Grand Pré would be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a tremendous honour for Nova Scotia. This designation brings our total to three for the province — joining Old Town Lunenburg and the Joggins Fossil Cliffs. As well, UNESCO has approved two biospheres in Nova Scotia. The community members and government partners who have worked so hard to make this happen deserve a thank you from all of us. This UNESCO designation enhances Nova Scotia’s standing in an elite club that includes some of the most spectacular places in the world including the Great Wall of China, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Statue of Liberty. UNESCO designations are hard to come by and the importance for our province cannot be understated; it forever enshrines the uniqueness and importance of these special places.
There is increasing value being placed on destinations that are rich in culture and history and, as heritage and cultural tourism grows, we are well positioned to capture a significant part of this business for the province. But having the right assets is only part of being able to sell the tourism experience — we need to be able to tell the Nova Scotia story.
In my July NSBJ column, I spoke of the significant investment being made in tourism by the United States government, while the Canadian government cuts the national tourism marketing budget. In a July 24 article by Bloomberg Online, it appears that these investments to market the U.S. to international tourist are paying off. According to the article, tourism exports were up significantly in many of the key markets, with spending by overseas visitors climbing 8.1 per cent to 13.9 billion for the period ending May 2012. There are also extremely strong indicators of substantial growth for June and July, with highest visitation from Latin America and Asia.
Tourism has been so positive for the U.S. economy that in a recent interview Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was quoted as saying, “Tourism was a bright spot in the US economy”. Have we ever heard such recognition for tourism’s role in our economy?
Until we start to invest in tourism in a significant way that will attract international visitors, we will continue to keep Nova Scotia a secret from the rest of the world.
Darlene Grant Fiander is 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 firstname.lastname@example.org