“Your heart will never leave.”
Wow! What a slogan for tourists and even those Capers who have left us and must live in Cape Breton in their hearts and memories. The good news is that the new brand created by Destination Cape Breton Association increasingly resonates with visitors to our beautiful island. I can, in fact, report that tourism is on the upswing, that we are gradually being discovered. I know this because I attended Industry Day in Baddeck a week ago when Destination Cape Breton delivered its annual report.
I sat with Ian Green, who operates a B and B on the North Shore. He told me a story which illustrates the affection of tourists for our island. A Texas couple who have come to Cape Breton the last four years for Celtic Colours and stayed with him, arrived at his place in October. As he was greeting the couple, the wife got out of the car and the first words she uttered were “I’m home.” Proper thing!
To back up the good news: Cape Breton Island led the entire Atlantic region in tourism growth in 2013. Also 2014 is shaping up as another banner year. We are gradually becoming persuasive marketers and the credit must go to Mary Tulle and her excellent staff at Destination Cape Breton, Lester Marchand and others at Fortress Louisbourg and the various tourism groups in our counties. It’s a collective effort.
Noelle MacLean, Director of Marketing at DCBA, broke down the 2013 numbers for us. The 2013 marketing objectives for room night sales were greatly exceeded. For example, DCBA projected an increase of 2 per cent in room nights but ended up with 5 per cent, or 18,000 additional room nights for a total of 393,000, with an average spend of $1,022 or 4.4 per cent over the stay. That’s slightly below the goal of 5 per cent for spending. The area held its own in length of stay, at 4.8 days. No other area in Atlantic Canada came close to these numbers in terms of increase in visitation. The direct revenue from the additional nights was $3,834,000. Now just imagine what it would do for our economy if the whole of Nova Scotia increased tourism revenues from $2 billion to $3 billion. It’s doable.
I should mention here the increased attention from the media. It amounted to the equivalent of $575,000 and is growing. Also, the return on investment in advertising exceeded expectations. For every dollar invested, the return was $37.
Traffic on the website was way up to 104 per cent and website visitation maintained the level of quality. What is promising is that there is a healthy interest from Ontario, at 33 per cent, and the numbers for the States are up. As a result of refined methods, both the DCBA and the Department of tourism will capitalize those areas. The goal is to increase web traffic and experiential tourism.
Incidentally, the Trail and the Fortress, the Bras D’Or and Cape Breton music are big attractions. At Louisbourg, Lester Marchand and his staff hope to duplicate the 100,000 visitors to the Fortress last summer.
There was much information provided at the annual meeting – on golf (a topic that I shall explore), on website design, major festivals, the promotion of the brand. Go to the CB Island website (http://www.cbisland.com/) to note the improvements and to the DCBA website to read the marketing report (http://dcba-info.com/marketing-promotion/).
LeRoy Peach lives in Port Morien and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.His column appears every two weeks in the Cape Breton Post.