The Halifax tourism companies are softening their expectations for the upcoming summer season, but are preparing to whip up once COVID-19 Protocols allow it.

The planned return of the Atlantic bubble this week can only help.

“As a company, we hope it’s a little better than last year,” said Dennis Campbell, CEO of Ambassatours Gray Line.

“Last year wasn’t a very good year so everything is better.”

Ambassatours, one of the largest tour operators in the area, operates a number of Harbor Hopper ships and amphibious vehicles. According to Campbell, last year, which opened the door to regional travel, Atlantic Bubble helped the company run its fleet at around 20 percent capacity. The restaurant and gift shop business was up at just 10 percent.

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This year, the Atlantic Bubble is slated to open on April 19th – months before last year’s creation date, July 3rd, 2020.

Campbell says he’s confident that business will keep up or be a little better than last year.

“Surely the introduction of vaccines is everything for the future of the tourism and travel industry, and I just think the world can go back to normal life,” he said.

“In the meantime, we must take comfort in living where we live. You know we live in one of the best places in the world and we live a lot more normally than most people. “

According to Campbell, Atlantic Canada’s relative success in keeping COVID-19 at bay has generated positive international attention and “notoriety” around the world. This positive attention, coupled with an apparent boom in the cruise industry in 2022, leaves him optimistic about the possible opening of Canada’s borders.

“We hope that ’22 might be a recovery year. But in fact, analysts and cruise lines are telling us that 2022 and 2023 are now almost completely sold out on cruise lines around the world, ”he said.

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He points out that the cruise industry is often an indicator of the strength of tourism in general, which is a good sign for the region.

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Ross Jefferson, President and CEO of Discover Halifax, maintains this optimism.

The nonprofit marketing organization, a partnership between the city government and the tourism industry, has numbers that show a 75 percent decrease in Halifax tourism spending.

“The tourism industry was one of the industries to be hit first, the industry that was probably hardest hit and probably the last industry to come back,” Jefferson said.

He says while rural areas may have fared slightly better, city centers like downtown Halifax have struggled immensely. He estimates that in Halifax, visitor spending has dropped by $ 900 million.

In preparation for this summer – and in anticipation of a successful roll out of COVID-19 vaccines that will ease restrictions – Jefferson is already planning behind the scenes to bring events to the city.

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The first major event will be the IIHF Women’s World Championship in Halifax and Truro in May.

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Much of their planning, however, depends on several variables – including health logs, demand, and infrastructure. Jefferson says the pieces of the ever-changing puzzle include whether companies can readjust fast enough, whether airline and bus routes will be open, and whether there are activities planned for tourists.

“Starting an industry this size, here in Halifax alone, it’s a $ 1.3 billion industry that can’t be restarted overnight,” he said.

Because of this, the industry is charting several scenarios in anticipation of the possible opening of the Canadian border.

“We know we cannot fully predict the future. There are still uncertainties so we would rather be ready to open and pause than not be ready when it is certain,” he said.

Meanwhile, with Ambassatours, Campbell has his sights set on the next year and the promise it brings.

“I think if we all make it in the industry by 2022, there are some very, very good times ahead,” he said.

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