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Since 1998 the town of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia has welcomed the arrival of a ship with two hulls that runs on jet engines. An unusually fast ship the Cat Ferry cut in half the two-day trip from Bar Harbor, Maine to the southwest Nova Scotia town. This brought American tourists to Nova Scotia complete with cars, recreational vehicles or tour buses.
The Cat ferry began service 12 years ago and boasted between 100,000 and 150,000 passengers every year. However, in recent years that number has dropped to be low 76,000 and the service only servivied through government subsidies: $1.3 million in 2005; $2.5 million in 2007; and $4.4 million in 2008. In 2009 the service was given the astounduing sum of $12 million. This is a subsidy of around $158 a person.
This is not the first hit for Yarmouth. In the early 1990′s a series of industry closings hurt ther area so tourism played a big part in the economic well-being. A few years ago the venerable Prince of Fundystopped operations. This traditional ferry service brought people in from Maine on a more regular basis than the Cat and its demise hurt many accommodation operations including bed-and-breakfasts as well as hotels and restaurants.
It is not that the Cat was the “end-all-and-be-all” of tourism dollars coming to Nova Scotia. It is just one in a string of tourism losses for Yarmouth including a pullout by Starlink, an air carrier that started service from Yarmouth to Maine less than a year ago.
With the high Canadian dollar, American Homeland Security roadblocks and the economic hits in the U.S. tourists from the south as a dying breed. In addition, the improvement of roads in Maine and southern new Brunswick mean that trip from Halifax to Boston and vice versa is a lot quicker than it used to be and, even with high gas prices, a lot cheaper than taking the Cat.
The traditional gateway to the U.S. by water has now closed. But this does not mean that southwest Nova Scotia is doomed. The loss of the ferries just means that Nova Scotia has to change its campaign for drawing tourist dollars into the province. What worked in the 1990′s does not necessarily translate into revenue anymore.
And at $158 a visitor surely we can spend our money more wisely to get a bigger bang for southern Nova Scotia.
Here is a guest blog by popular travel blogger Rob Barham
If you want to hike in Nova Scotia, whether you are an experienced hiker or not, you can easily take a tour which starts and ends in Halifax, the capital of this ocean influenced Canadian province. Although the hike is primary, tours also include experiences that will give you insight into Canadian history and culture. It’s possible to get tours which transport your bags from point to point to save your back too if desired.
Accommodation on the trekking tours is typically at cozy Bed and Breakfast hotels where you will get a warm Nova Scotia welcome.
Nova Scotia is one of Canada’s maritime provinces and can easily be reached by a flight from the UK to Halifaxwhich only takes about 6 hours with a direct flight. Nova Scotia has a very diverse nature and is ideal for hiking adventures. Also recommended for active holidaymakers is cycling, kayaking, fishing and sailing.
It is easy to find your way around Halifax and most of the city’s attractions are within walking distance. The harbour area is pleasant with old restored warehouse buildings. It is also where the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic has their home.
Crystal Crescent Beach, about 40 km south of Halifax. From the beach you can see the lighthouse on Sambro Island, which is the oldest functioning in North America.
White Point Beach Resort, located by the sea. Our resort is full of history and was once (1928), a private hunting and fishing lodge. Today it is a well-functioning resort with many activities. Try the tasty lobster, which Nova Scotia is so famous for.
Kejimkujik National Park, enjoys a coastal landscape with tundra-like vegetation an dramatic rock formations along the beach. Look for seals and beautiful orchids. Go inland and explore the huge wilderness area with forests, many lakes and rich wildlife. You will walk in a in a relatively flat terrain between 300 years old trees.
Brier Island – Whale watching in the Bay of Fundy. An awe inspiring experience. There is no guarantee you will see them but there is a good chance you will see whales and dolphins.
If you have not bought any equipment for the hiking tour, you have a good opportunity here in Halifax. Canadians are good at “outdoor wear”, and you get great value for money on brands like The North Face and of course Canada Goose.
At night the city tour Ghost Walk of Historic Halifax is highly recommended. It need not be booked but the meeting place is to gather at the Old Town Clock, located halfway up the hill to the Halifax Citadel – an old British fort.
Rob Barham operates great travel sites such as voyage vietnam .co
A few years back I was accosted by an awful little man who owned a campground down the road. The reason? I had allowed a friend to park his RV on my acreage while he drove around Nova Scotia in his small car. He was from the west and wanted a break from the confines of his vehicle. In addition to bothering me this overzealous campground nut went to the local grocery store and banged on the doors of two RV’s from the U.S. who had parked for the evening.
I’m not an RV’er but I used to work in tourism and anything to do with tourism in the province interests me. Since then I have been doing research into this man’s claim that RV’s have to park in a registered campground. Here’s what I found on a sign at a Walmart.
“Section three (3) Article three (3) of the Tourism Accommodations Act states: “no person shall use, maintain, operate or manage a camping establishment or permit the use of any lands for the overnight parking or RV for the traveling or vacationing public unless there is a licence which is in force. 1994-95, c.9, s.3.”
I remember phoning up Doug Mathews of Tourism Nova Scotia and asking him about this ban and he was unapologetic. He gave me the impression that RV’ers were not important to Nova Scotia tourism and that they should camp in authorized camping areas to avoid “dumping their toilets in the ditches,” as he explained. He also said that they never bought gas here and “just a few groceries.” What an attitude for a paid employee of ours.
I don’t know if this attitude has changed at all but the law is supposed to be repealed in the spring. (Andrew Cornwall, the one who gave me the picture and wrote a study on the RV situation in Nova Scotia, has since informed me that the signs came down last fall and the law is supposed to be changed any time now)
It’s evident that he either has buddies in the Campground Association or they saw him robbing a bank.Because my RVing friends told me that in RV magazines and websites Nova Scotia has been chastised for this behavior toward RVers. And in the tourism economy we are going through right now (dismal) you would think that every RV coming here was sacred.
For Andrew Cornwall’s study, The Economic Effects in Nova Scotia
of the RV Overnight Parking Ban and Aspects of Campground Minimum Standards, Click Here