The tourism season on Cape Breton has come to an end for another season. Now we have the opportunity to look back at this past season and see how the island fared in the tourism market and start to plan for the future. This past season Cape Breton witnessed some remarkable feats in its tourism industry. First being designated as the number one island destination in North America and second, being named third best island destination in the world; that is definitely something to be proud of. It is now our goal to keep our standing at this top class level in order to continue to draw visitors from around the world. The Bras d’Or Lakes also received recognition and drew attention to the island when it attained designation as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. These two factors probably had a lot to do with well known travel writers from around the globe traveling to Cape Breton to experience first-hand our culture, scenery and experiences for which we are known.
This past season Destination Cape Breton Association worked diligently to increase our presence in the tourism market. It placed an information kiosk on the Halifax waterfront in order to direct visitors to our area. It also made extensive upgrades to the CBIsland.com website, which was an asset to the tourism operators, making it more efficient for them to effectively update their individual listings and give visitors who are planning to travel to Cape Breton a more complete view of what the island has to offer. Numbers pertaining to visitors to the area were down in the first part of the season but made a rebound in the latter part of the summer and into October. Overall Cape Breton fared very well with approximately 90,000 plus visitors paying Cape Breton a call. These numbers were higher than those seen in other tourism locations in Nova Scotia. DCBA continues to move forward with plans to best market the island to insure that the tourism industry continues to grow. They will be holding information sessions around the island with stakeholders of the tourism industry, where the DCBA staff will take the opportunity to highlight some of the islands exciting milestones and accomplishments, which are primarily as a result of the operators’, businesses’, and community organizations’ commitment and support to Cape Breton’s growing tourism industry. Operators will be updated on the opportunities available to become more involved within the industry throughout 2012. These sessions, which are free to the public, will be a great place to network, a chance to keep up-to-date on the many successes in the industry and an excellent opportunity to become more involved in the community. The sessions will take place December 5th - Inverary Inn in Baddeck 10:00 am, December 6th - Inverness Fire Hall 1:00 pm, December 7th - Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre 10:00 am, December 7th - Bras d’Or Lakes Inn, St. Peter’s 1:30 pm and December 9th - Delta, Sydney 10:00 am. To register go to http://www.cbisland.com/signup/.
This past season also saw some changes made to the tourism scene in Richmond County. Destination Richmond Tourism Cooperative dissolved its association, leaving the tourism industry in Richmond fully under the guidance of Jeff Stanley at the Municipality’s Economic Development and Tourism Department. Charlene Marshall who had been Destination Richmond’s Partnership Coordinator moved over to the Municipality’s Tourism Department for the initial transition, but has since taken a teaching position with the Nova Scotia Community College. Having worked closely with Charlene I am very sorry to see her leave the tourism field and want to express my thanks for all she tried to accomplish during her time in charge of DRTC.