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The Integrated Tourism Master Plan (ITMP) provides a vision for tourism in Halifax. Leading destinations are founded in a clear picture of where they are going and what needs to happen to achieve this, and this plan is how we will all get there, together.

Ultimately, this plan will help drive and prioritize the efforts and investments that will lead to sustainable economic growth from the region’s tourism economy. And that will do one important thing: It will enrich the lives our citizens.

ITMP will anchor a shared vision and strategy for the Halifax Regional Municipality, while supporting growth and prosperity in the region through the lens of the tourism opportunity.

Planning Context

ITMP is not a plan for Discover Halifax alone, but a plan for all shareholders and stakeholders in tourism and their main beneficiaries—those who live and work in the HRM. The plan is meant to be a framework for working toward a common goal, while still understanding that different organizations and stakeholders will have their own priorities.

PlaniFAX Master Plan Background

Watch the following video to understand how the ITMP came together.

A community-first approach

Traditionally, destinations have leveraged the services of marketing organizations to compel and inspire travellers to visit their destinations. Success was often measured by more visitors, higher levels of hotel occupancy, and higher daily rates. And, in many cases, marketing was the only role performed by these organizations.

The past decade, however, has seen a shift as tourism has quickly become the fastest growing industry in the world. But for many places, as tourists continue to congregate in the world’s “hot spots”, they are increasingly overwhelming the places they come to visit. As a result, destination marketing organizations (DMOs) have broadened their scope beyond just marketing to include managing the challenges and opportunities of tourism.

DMOs, like Discover Halifax, have a leadership role as advocates for the importance of the business of tourism, while also being aware of its impact. In other words, to take a community-first approach to tourism by making tourism a priority as a revenue and employment generator, while carefully navigating the real and perceived challenges that tourism places on a community.

Understanding why people choose to live in a destination is as important as understanding why people choose to visit a destination. And that is what makes Discover Halifax uniquely positioned to take on a leadership role for the ITMP.

Engagement Process

Ensuring there was comprehensive input was critical to the development of the plan and what guided the engagement process. The process began in October, 2019 and wrapped up in January, 2020. Activities to ensure extensive outreach and engagement included:

  • A dedicated project webpage to inform stakeholders of the overall strategy process and to support the outreach and engagement process
  • Discussion primer and feedback form
  • Town hall sessions
  • Working sessions with industry stakeholders and sector groups
  • Bilateral interviews
  • An online survey of Discover Halifax members, broader stakeholder representatives, etc.
  • Project email address for open, unstructured input
Discover Halifax Graphic Elements 01

  

Survey responses

Discover Halifax Graphic Elements 02

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Session attendees

Discover Halifax Graphic Elements 03

  

Engagement events

COVID-19

Destinations have experienced environmental disasters and epidemics in the past, but never has the tourism sector been grounded to the current extent with the COVID-19 pandemic. The scope and scale of the impact of the current health crisis on the economy broadly—and tourism in particular—is unprecedented.

The Halifax ITMP was completed just prior to the economic upheaval resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the strategic tenets of this plan were designed to be enduring and will continue to be relevant, the context has obviously changed profoundly.

Recognizing that economic recovery will be the priority beyond the current urgent health crisis, the essential question is, how does the ITMP fit into a go-forward strategy to advance through a recovery phase.

Fortunately, the Halifax ITMP was delivered and endorsed immediately prior to recognition of the severity of COVID-19, providing a foundation to move forward.

The ITMP is based on comprehensive input from a wide variety of sources—community leaders, strategic partners, business, industry associations, educators, and citizens. As the report was finalized and its findings and conclusions discussed and tested, there was a strong consensus for the proposed future directions.

Sector leaders, such as Discover Halifax, will play a crucial role in business stabilization and recovery efforts post-COVID-19.

Collective impact

With so many organizations and perspectives at the table when it comes to tourism, it was important to ensure this plan was being approached from a high-level perspective of the collective impact.

This plan is meant to be a strategic plan that numerous stakeholders and organizations can rally around to unify efforts to ensure we’re all working together toward common goals and objectives. The theory behind this is rooted in the Stanford Collective Impact model as outlined in the following graphic.

Collective Impact

Collective impact is not a quick fix, nor it is easy to achieve. It is a long-term, multi-sectoral effort to bring about significant change in a community— whether driven by the need to solve a problem, fix a crisis, or create a vision of a better future. Conceptually, collective impact is an excellent fit for the Halifax ITMP.

Ultimately, moving the needle on the ITMP requires an approach that can effectively mobilize the resources necessary to positively impact outcomes. No single organization can do this effectively on their own. Collective impact requires the combined efforts and resources of multiple entities.

The ITMP provides a common agenda arising from converging ideas, perspectives, plans, and more into a central aspirational idea the ecosystem can rally around.

The ITMP Plan will soon be released!

Providing a vision for tourism in Halifax. This plan is how we will all get there, together.

Thanks to the many contributors