Halifax has just started the busiest time of year for tourism, but the season already looks like a good one based on higher revenue and big smiles on waterfront business owners, says the president of Destination Halifax.
© JEFF HARPER - METRO
People board a Harbour Hopper near the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic as another one leaves for a tour of the city.
On Monday, Patricia Lyall said indicators in the first part of the summer were “very positive,” including a spike in the meeting and convention business in April, May and June.
“There’s a steady stream of events which really are the reason that people would look to any given place as to ‘Why should I go there?’” Lyall said about diverse attractions like the Halifax Comedy Festival starting early this year, and Multicultural Festival in June.
Lyall said the tourism revenue to the end of June was an increase of seven per cent over last year in Halifax, while the cruise numbers have seemed “on par” and the ship numbers start climbing this week until October.
The food, kayak, bicycle, and other outlet owners on the waterfront have seemed very positive this summer, Lyall said, with some even hiring part-time staff to keep up with demand.
“By and large I would suggest they’re quite upbeat this year,” she said.
Pat Sullivan, CEO of the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency, said the amount of people coming to Halifax by airplane was up eight per cent over last year by the end of May.
Sullivan said there was also a five per cent jump in hotel rooms sold in the metro area in the same time frame.
He said that works out to about 25,000 hotel rooms out of 500,000 – more than $2.5 million in extra tourism dollars.
Although Sullivan agreed the biggest tourist boost will come over the next few weeks as August ends, he spotted lots of people with backpacks and cameras walking around the city early Monday morning even though a cruise ship wasn’t docked.
“It certainly gave me a sense there are lot of folks visiting the city right now,” Sullivan said.