Making Pictou a port of call

John Brannen, The News
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Region partners to shore up support for small cruise ship visits

NEW GLASGOW – Through a collaborative marketing campaign, the Port of Pictou, Town of New Glasgow and Destination Eastern and Northumberland Shores and the Atlantic Canada Cruise Association are hoping to attract small cruise ships to Pictou County.

The region of Pictou County was recently showcased as one of the Atlantic Canada’s small port cruise ship destinations at the Cruise Shipping Miami Trade Show held in Miami, Florida from March 10 to 13.

Around 1,800 cruise line owners and operators from more than 60 companies were in attendance at the trade show. Geralyn MacDonald, co-chair of the Pictou County Cruise Ship Committee, was invited to attend by the ACCA as a representative of the Atlantic Provinces small ports.    

MacDonald represented Pictou County as one of Atlantic Canada’s small port choices and held one-on-one meetings with cruise ship companies. She said that while the cruise ship Saga Pearl II’s visit in 2012 was a good first step, attracting further visits requires continuous work from a team.

Getting a cruise ship back here has been tough since the loss of the RDA, but we’ve dusted ourselves off and are working hard,” she said. “In working with other small port towns in Atlantic Canada, we all stand to benefit.”

There are a few differences in approach from the time the first cruise ship arrived in 2012. Namely, Pictou is port-ready and stakeholders in the county are working very closely with the ACCA.

“If we don’t work with them, we’re like the little fish in the deep sea.”

MacDonald noted the small cruise market is growing and appropriate for Pictou County.

“Large ships have entertainment onboard whereas small ships go into the area and let you explore the community.”

According to MacDonald, if all goes well, Pictou Harbour may see a small cruise ship in port this fall. That’s because V Ships SAM, based out of Monaco, contacted her since she returned home from the trade show.

“This indicates strong interest in our port (and) is something we will continue to work on, providing them with everything they need to confirm us on their itinerary. It is looking very promising.”

Part of the campaign was to ensure a marketing strategy and package for the region towards cruise lines that specialize in the growing niche market of small ports. Project members are hoping their newly minted slogan, ‘Port of Pictou – Your Magical Small Port – the Spirit, Songs & Flavours of New Scotland,’ will help carry their message.

“Our marketing materials and presentation were very well received by the cruise companies and by ACAA,” said MacDonald. “Our port has what small cruise lines are looking for. This is a growing market in the cruise ship industry.”

Michelle Young, co-chair of the Pictou County Cruise Ship Committee, Kim Dickson, director of marketing/communications for the Town of New Glasgow, Cindy MacKinnon from DEANS and MacDonald worked with a graphic designer to create a logo for the port around this theme.

“DEANS is pleased to have the opportunity to showcase the experiences that are available for our cruise passengers in our region and to highlight the many tourism offerings in Pictou County,” said MacKinnon. “We are proud that our region offers several shore excursions that provide a memorable experience for the small port cruise market.”

The full marketing package presented at the trade show also featured a video of the cruise ship Saga Pearl visiting Pictou in September 2012 and testimonials from the cruise ship passengers.

Young, who also has worked for several cruise lines, also says that Pictou County has the kind of tourism experience that cruise ship passengers would gravitate towards.

“It is a great opportunity for our port and all of Pictou County,” she said. “Our cruise ship initiative is a community development strategy that puts the spotlight on all that Pictou County has to offer the cruise industry. It is an authentic Nova Scotia cultural experience. It is up to us to bring the stories to life.”

Other meetings for MacDonald included one-on-ones with cruise ship officials, cruise ship travel writers/editors as well as other partners such as Ambassatours bus tours from Halifax.

Primarily, the ACCA and the Town of Pictou covered costs for participation in the Miami Cruise Shipping trade show, with additional support from DEANS and the Town of New Glasgow.

On Twitter: @NGNewsJohn 

Organizations: ACCA, Pictou County Cruise Ship Committee

Geographic location: Pictou County, Atlantic Canada, Miami, Florida Atlantic Provinces New Glasgow Monaco New Scotland Nova Scotia Halifax

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