There are many factors that contribute to an increase in tourism. It may be influenced by a large event or a popular concert, a new attraction or a spectacular flight promotion. For Halifax, we believe tourism increased in 2016 largely due to a combination of exceptional weather during the summer months, a strong US dollar, great festivals and events and the collective marketing efforts of tourism-related businesses.
A strong US dollar encourages Canadians to explore and travel within Canada, rather than travelling south to the United States, and Americans are more likely to travel to Canada where their dollar will go further. Out of the nearly 400,000 people to travel to Nova Scotia in August 2016, 50,000 visited from the United States and 331,000 were from other parts of Canada (Tourism Nova Scotia).
Looking forward and planning ahead, we predict an equally successful year for 2017, with a fourth year of consecutive growth for tourism in Halifax, which has increased 12.4% (room nights) since 2013.
Canada was recently named the number one country to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel series for 2017 and in the New York Times’ “52 Places to go in 2017” list. Lonely Planet also forecasts that Nova Scotia is “emerging as a major destination”.
2017 also marks the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation, and Parks Canada has announced that they are offering visitors free admission to national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas for the entire year. This means one of Halifax’s most popular attractions, the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site will be free and is predicted to draw tourists to the city.
The new Discovery Centre, which is scheduled to open on the Halifax waterfront in February 2017, will be the largest science centre in Atlantic Canada. It will have twice as much space as its previous location, with five galleries, an open atrium, an Innovation Lab, a Travelling Exhibits Gallery and a spectacular Immersive Dome Theatre.
Also coming in the summer of 2017 is the long-anticipated return of Tall Ships. The event is called “Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta” organized by Sail Training International and is returning to Canada with a fleet of 40 vessels to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. This 7,000-nautical mile transatlantic race will visit six countries in total, including England, Portugal, Bermuda, United States, Canada and France. Halifax has been selected as the final port before crews begin the last leg of the race across the Atlantic Ocean.
Another major development in the city is the Halifax Convention Centre. The new convention centre is part of the Nova Centre, which encompasses a boutique hotel, retail space, restaurants and office space. With over 120,000 square feet of flexible event space, it is shaping up to be one of Halifax’s most spectacular buildings. The Halifax Convention Centre is set to open in late 2017 or early 2018.
In Halifax, the tourism industry is getting stronger every year and currently has an estimated value of approximately $1 billion and welcomes 5.5 million overnight visitors per year. We will continue to commit our resources and efforts to showcasing Halifax as an incredible year-round destination of choice to traveller everywhere.