The provincial government is advancing funds to Nova Star Cruises to support its first season of operations between Yarmouth and Portland, Maine.
© TINA COMEAU PHOTO
The Nova Star unloading vehicles and passengers at the Yarmouth ferry terminal.
Nova Star Cruises is working with the State of Maine to secure a $5-million operating line of credit, but has been unable to come to an arrangement to date. The government of Nova Scotia is advancing the company these funds while discussions continue.
Nova Star Cruises will use the funds for operating costs, including fuel and supplies necessary for running the ferry. The agreement between the government and the company, signed in November 2013, has been amended to reflect this payment.
"The ferry is important to tourism and the economy in southwestern Nova Scotia and the province, and we committed to do whatever we can to help the ferry get going," said Michel Samson, Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism. "The company has encountered some early challenges, and we are working with it to get over the bumps of a first season toward long-term success."
Samson met with Nova Star chief operating officer Steve Durrell and president and CEO Mark Amundsen on Thursday, May 29.
"Mr. Durrell assured me that his company continues talks with the State of Maine about the potential for financial assistance in the future," said Samson. "He also told me the company has had a great response to its discounted fares. With the season now underway, Nova Scotians should get behind this service and book their tickets."
"Nova Star Cruises is thankful for the ongoing support of the government of Nova Scotia as we work to re-establish cruise-ferry service between Yarmouth and Portland and continue our discussions with the State of Maine," said Amundsen.
"Our marketing efforts, focused on attracting visitors to Nova Scotia, are now well underway, and we are pleased with the interest we are receiving as we head into the peak tourism season."
The Nova Scotia Tourism Agency has ramped up marketing efforts to reach the northeastern United States market.
"We'll continue to work with Nova Star's marketing team to ensure our efforts are aligned. We focus our marketing on the province as a destination and the company markets its cruise service. There are many things we can do to be creative and get the word out," said Patrick Sullivan, CEO of the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency.
To date, government has provided $19 million to Nova Star Cruises, including the $5 million for operating costs. The company must continue to meet the terms and conditions set out in the agreement to earn forgiveness for the loan.
When the agreement for ferry service was reached, the provincial government said it would supply up to $21 million over seven years.