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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 4, 2020
SYDNEY — Destination Cape Breton says the organization is optimistic the tourism season will be better than previously expected.
Terry Smith, chief executive officer for Destination Cape Breton, told the Cape Breton Post the organization expected a 70 per cent reduction in summer tourism as well as a 60 per cent reduction during the fall months because of COVID-19.
However, with the Atlantic bubble creation last month and travel restrictions lifted for those living in the Atlantic provinces, the organization is hopeful the island will see some tourism dollars this year.
“We remain cautious in our optimism,” said Smith. “Regardless of what we, as an industry, can salvage from this season, it will still be far from a regular season.”
Prior to the Atlantic bubble announcement, Destination Cape Breton developed marketing plans to promote the tourism industry within the province as well as an overall strategy in anticipation of interprovincial travel.
Once the Atlantic bubble was confirmed, the organization immediately began targeting possible tourists from across the region, including New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Destination Cape Breton is promoting the industry through three main tactics, including digital marketing via Google, Facebook and YouTube, as well as television advertising and social-media influencers.
“In terms of content, we are focused on the main motivators of travel to the island from the Atlantic region, which are the Cabot Trail and outdoor adventure,” said Smith.
“The messaging is led by those motivators, but then we are focused on educating people on the other areas of the island so that they will extend their stay or perhaps plan a return visit.”
Prior to COVID-19, Smith said Atlantic Canadians only comprise of 23 per cent of all visitors to Cape Breton during the tourism season.
“The worst-case scenario would be that we only get that number or lower this season,” he said. “Given that there are few options to travel outside of the region, the best-case scenario would be that we double our Atlantic Canada visitation.”
Generally, Smith said tourism operators are pleased to be able to salvage as much of the season as possible.
“In general terms, accommodation operators with cottages, cabins or glamping facilities seem to be doing well in bookings,” he said. “Hotels and motels are still seeing lower occupancy, but hopefully that will change as more Atlantic Canadians feel comfortable with travelling and begin making plans.”
Earlier this week, Cape Breton was ranked the No. 1 island in Canada in the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards. The award honours top travel destinations and companies around the globe as rated by Travel + Leisure readers.
Meanwhile, Destination Cape Breton launched a new promotion last week that focuses on lobster and restaurants.
Nineteen eateries around the island are participating in Lobster-licious, which runs until July 26, adding a special lobster dish to their menu.
As of now, no COVID-19 cases related to the opening of the Atlantic bubble have been confirmed in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I. or Newfoundland and Labrador.