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Ross Jefferson

Ross Jefferson
President & Chief Executive Officer, Discover Halifax

I consider it a privilege and an honor to be leading a small and talented team of individuals who are committed to promoting and sharing the Halifax Region’s story with the rest of the world.

And we have a pretty amazing story to tell. It is rich with the diversity of the people and regions where they originate from. From St. Margarets Bay to the Eastern Shore, our distinct regions and authentic experiences are helping attract visitors from around the world in record numbers.

Halifax’s story is just as much about our present and our future as it is about our past. Halifax is growing and as we look around the region, you can’t help but notice this place is continuing to evolve.

The visitor economy is a major contributor to this growth, with six consecutive years of growth and 5.3 million overnight stays per year, visitors contribute over $1.2 billion annually to our economy.

That’s impressive enough to write about, and I’ll be looking to share more with you in the future.

The focus of this conversation is about maximizing our opportunities and managing towards our future. Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world and it is bringing prosperity and opportunities to the communities who are prepared.

Sure, we could leave it to chance and let this growth direct us. This approach will likely continue to have positive outcomes for us, but I believe we have an opportunity to shape this growth, anticipate challenges that come with growth, and along the way build a better community for visitors and citizens.

Simply stated, we need a plan. A plan that will help us grow the tourism industry in a sustainable and inclusive way that benefits all of Halifax’s communities. A master tourism plan can help Halifax achieve the goals it set out in its Economic Growth Plan. We have an opportunity to chart a course that supports broader community goals and help build a place not just for tourists, but for everyone.

Discover Halifax is just beginning the work of building a master tourism plan. As we’re getting started, I’m excited to announce that we have an incredible team of tourism experts joining us, including Michele McKenzie, Group ATN consulting and Twenty31.

Michele is a travel and tourism expert and was the successful candidate who will lead the project over the next several months. She has worked in destination marketing and management organizations at the municipal, regional and national level, including as the former President and CEO of the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC / Destination Canada), and former Deputy Minister for Tourism Nova Scotia, Culture and Heritage – just to name a few of her contributions to the industry.

Group ATN consulting based in Halifax and Twenty31 with global offices were selected after a request for proposals conducted in September. Group ATN has specialized in tourism analysis, community engagement and worked with important tourism partners such as the Indigenous community. Twenty31 has done global work in tourism and we will benefit from their propriety destination potential model.

I am thrilled to have this team assembled to begin this project and work alongside the incredible team here at Discover Halifax.

The next step? Community collaboration. We’ll be looking to engage partners in the industry and a wide array of businesses so we can develop a plan that is bold yet achievable; sustainable and inclusive.

Please be sure to follow Discover Halifax’s website we as share more about the planning for a master tourism plan that help Halifax be globally recognized as Canada’s favourite city.