PORT HAWKESBURY: Destination Cape Breton Association (DCBA) is making plans for 2018 following another year of growth in the local tourism sector.
On Monday, DCBA hosted a tourism industry session at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre. The event was the first of four industry sessions that will take place across Cape Breton over the coming week.
“It’s really a chance to let everybody know what we’re doing from a tourism perspective for the coming year,” said Mary Tulle, CEO for DCBA. “We’re sharing some of our results from 2017, what we put forward as goals, and what we achieved.”
In 2016, Cape Breton saw a substantial increase in visitors, which Tulle attributed to factors such as the “Trump bump” and the viral social media campaign launched by The Farmer’s Daughter Country Market in Whycocomagh to recruit new employees.
“We went into 2017 after a 16 per cent increase in room nights sold. We were hoping to maintain that, because that’s an extraordinary growth,” said Tulle. “What we had until the end of November 2017 is a five per cent increase again in the number of room nights sold.”
Tulle says the DCBA uses information they gather to inform future marketing strategies and identify target demographics. Tulle said Cape Breton’s strongest tourism markets are Ontario, Quebec and New England.
“We saw a huge increase last year from Ottawa specifically. We feel that has a lot to do with the activation that we did in Ottawa called Inspiration Village,” said Tulle.
DCBA set up an exhibit showcasing Cape Breton in Ottawa last summer as part of Canada’s 150 celebrations.
Tulle said one of DCBA’s goals for 2018 is to grow its current on-line marketing strategies by working with influencers who have strong social media platforms. In this way, Tulle hopes to tap into communities with shared interests such as hiking.
“We are looking to work with individuals who are passionate about hiking and to work with what we call a community of interest group, or those who love hiking and have followings, to help us influence people to come here,” said Tulle.
“We are also focusing on working with what we call our ‘travel trade’ or those individuals from around the world who sell tourism product and tourism packages, either directly or through travel agents.”
The industry session was attended by tourism operators, business leaders, and community members. Throughout the sessions, Tulle hopes to gather input from stakeholders that will help the DCBA develop new marketing strategies. Tulle said Monday’s session generated some positive discussion around topics such as the shared economy and cultural events.
“It was recognized that festivals and events are those anchors that will keep people here longer, and so there was discussion on a post-Celtic Colours Festival event and how things like that can be mobilized, and we were delighted to be able to update that there is one hopefully in the works,” Tulle added.