In 2016, tourism in Nova Scotia generated $2.6 billion. This translates to almost $300 million in tax revenue for all levels of government. This tax revenue is then invested by governments to pay for social services like health care, education and infrastructure. Government has few options like tourism, which generates $3.20 for every $1 invested in communities and which, according to Stats Canada, employs over 40,000 people in the sector.

Along with creating jobs and driving tax revenue, tourism enhances the social condition of our communities, serves as a protector and celebrator of history and culture, and supports a healthy and sustainable natural environment.

Nova Scotia is blessed with incredible natural beauty and our enviable location by the sea makes Nova Scotia a much sought after destination. In 2011, tourism operators in Nova Scotia were pleased with the provincial government’s release of a Natural Resource Strategy “The Path We Share.”

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The strategy was the culmination of years of collaborative work by hundreds of stakeholders. It is extremely disappointing that there has been little progress made on the recommendations from the 2011 strategy. In fact, in many areas there has been a total abdication of responsibility around clear cutting targets and forestry management practices, including herbicide and pesticide spraying.

As people seek out authentic and nature-based experiences, why are we putting at risk both our healthy and sustainable forests and Nova Scotia’s tourism industry?

The inability of successive governments to firmly entrench a comprehensive natural resource strategy for the province is alarming. The recent outcry over the clear-cuts in the Wentworth Valley is symptomatic of the fact that Nova Scotians care deeply about the environment.

Nova Scotia is home to some of the most exceptional wilderness areas in Canada, where unusual ecosystems provide habitats for rare species of birds, plants and animals. A number of places around the world have leveraged their unique geography and natural assets to position themselves as premiere tourism destinations. Nova Scotia can do the same but only if we start to place value on our natural resources in measurements other than harvested volumes, cubic feet and biomass.

Recently the province announced an independent review of forestry practices. We can hope this will lead to the implementation of the 2011 recommendations and put us back on the right path. The fact is we already know we are overcutting our forests. The science that informed the natural resources strategy hasn’t changed.

Tourism has been challenged to double revenues to $4 billion annually. How we manage our natural resources will play a critical role in reaching that goal. The time for action is now!

Darlene Grant Fiander,

President Tourism Industry

Association of Nova Scotia

Halifax