Rural Resilience: Fueling Economic Growth Through Tourism in Rural HRM

Rural Resilience: Fueling Economic Growth Through Tourism in Rural HRM

< Back to Articles | Topics: Guest Post | Contributors: By: Wendy Luther, President & CEO, Halifax Partnership and Ross Jefferson, President & CEO, Discover Halifax | Published: June 1, 2023

With the dog days of summer on the horizon, it’s prime time for Halifax residents and tourists alike to enjoy our vibrant coastal city. With over 200 urban, rural, and suburban communities in which to live, work, and play, there is plenty of opportunity for businesses and visitors alike. The Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) encompasses a staggering 5,475 square kilometres, roughly the size of Prince Edward Island (at 5,681 sq. km), or over three quarters the size of the entire Greater Toronto Area (at 7,125 sq. km).

Halifax has tremendous potential to increase economic growth through tourism. We typically welcome 5.3 million overnight stays every year, with visitors spending an estimated $1.3 billion a year. Additionally, approximately 34,000 people work in tourism at 4,000 businesses throughout Halifax, all of whom help contribute to the local economy.

The Halifax Partnership and Discover Halifax teams work closely on economic development and recovery. Supporting tourism growth will help Halifax continue to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19 while reaching for its goals to grow GDP to $30 billion and population to 650,000 by 2031 — and to be widely recognized as the favourite city in Canada.

At Halifax Partnership, our work is guided by People. Planet. Prosperity. Halifax’s Inclusive Economic Strategy 2022-2027. At Discover Halifax, the Integrated Tourism Master Plan is the roadmap to support and grow our tourism industry. While separate strategies, they are nonetheless fully aligned and interconnected as we work together to shape and increase economic growth, build a city that is vibrant and alive 365 days a year, and enrich the lives of all residents.

Both Halifax Partnership and Discover Halifax want to maximize the economic and social benefits that come from the tourism industry, which in turn benefits the people who live, visit, and invest in our region. To achieve this, we work together to support the businesses and communities across the entire HRM, including our rural communities.

Did you know that HRM has one of the largest proportions of rural residents among Canadian census metropolitan areas and the largest rural population across all counties in Nova Scotia? Our rural areas experience unique business and tourism challenges as well as opportunities. A common thread among our rural communities is their collaborative, supportive nature. Businesses sell and promote each other's products and services in their stores, buy local, and invest in each other's success. Like urban and suburban areas of HRM, rural communities are also facing challenges with housing, attracting and retaining talent, and transportation. On the flip side, there are incredible opportunities to support the development and growth of culinary, recreation, and arts and entertainment businesses and experiences, among other attractions, within those rural communities.

To support rural-focused business retention and expansion outreach and tourism, last year Regional Council provided funding for two Account Executive positions: one at Halifax Partnership and the other at Discover Halifax. These professionals have been working to establish and nurture relationships with community members, business owners, non-profit associations, and economic development partners, to understand and help address both individual and shared challenges of rural businesses.

One such business owner is Anthea Taljaard, of the Eastern Shore’s Gallery, in Head of Chezzetcook. Anthea struggled to connect with the correct government department to clear the overgrown bushes that were blocking the view of her gallery from the road. Dolores Atwood, Rural Account Executive at Halifax Partnership was able to connect her with the right people, and today, Eastern Shore’s Gallery is visible from the road and ready to attract and welcome visitors.

At Discover Halifax, this growth in new connections has led to a greater ability to support community-led tourism initiatives, a key focus for Mallori Inzinga, Discover Halifax’s Rural Tourism Account Executive. By proactively engaging with rural HRM-based tourism companies, Mallori is able to help identify issues and barriers for business, making connections to resolve them. Since joining the team, in September 2022, over 75 new rural businesses have signed on as members. Any business located in HRM can become a member — it’s free, and comes with a profile on Discover Halifax’s website and promotion through marketing materials, such as campaigns and visitors guides, as well as through social media and newsletters.

Together, we endeavour to help build stronger, more resilient rural communities that use tourism to fuel their economic development. More broadly, we all have a role to play in helping make this incredible region known as Halifax — on the ancestral land of the Mi’kmaq known as Kjipuktuk — a thriving, prosperous city for all its residents, businesses, and visitors.

Reach out to Jason or Mallori to see how they can help your rural-based business thrive:

Jason Guidry
Director, Trade and International Partnerships
Halifax Partnership

Mallori Inzinga
Account Executive, Rural Tourism
Discover Halifax

< Back to Articles | Topics: Guest Post

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