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March 18, 2021 - Halifax, Nova Scotia: The year-end data released by Discover Halifax shows the full impact of the pandemic on Halifax Regional Municipality’s tourism industry. The cancellation of the 2020 cruise season and a 76.2 per cent decrease in air travel passengers have contributed to a 52.1 per cent decrease in the total of overnight stays from January to December 2020 and a total of 68 per cent since the start of the pandemic.

“These results are stark and disappointing and show the depth of the impact on those businesses relying on this industry” said Ross Jefferson, President and CEO of Discover Halifax. “We would like to recognize how many sacrifices have been made to keep our community safe and thank our industry members for the sacrifices they have made over this past year.”

As the non-profit destination marketing and sales organization, Discover Halifax is primarily focused on promoting the region to safe travel markets. It developed a three-stage recovery plan in response to the COVID-19 crisis that included supporting the industry in phase one; developing a proposal to reopen to safe markets like the Atlantic bubble in phase two; and, transforming the industry to build back better in phase three.

Early on, Discover Halifax announced it would waive membership fees to help businesses that were among the hardest hit. By Fall 2020, the organization moved to a no-cost membership model for 2021 to unite businesses that support the visitor economy and work together on its safe comeback. Most recently, Discover Halifax released the region’s first Integrated Tourism Master Plan to help manage immediate and long-term sustainable and inclusive growth for the region through a community-first approach.

“When this pandemic is over, Halifax will be well positioned to welcome travellers back safely because of our collective response to this crisis,” said Jefferson. “The pent-up demand for travel is building, and business and leisure travellers will be drawn to the Halifax region because of our friendly and welcoming hospitality, our reputation as a safe destination, and our unique outdoor and coastal experiences.”

Last week, Destination Canada also released new research on the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector. While it noted that recovery is forecasted to take years, Canadians can help save jobs and bolster the industry by shifting some of its international leisure spend to support domestic travel.


(Actual YTD)


(Actual YTD)

% change

Total overnight stays




Room nights sold (traditional hotels)




Room nights sold (Sharing economy)




Cruise ship passengers




Air travel (enplaned / deplaned passengers)




*Traditional hotel rooms are tracked through Smith Travel Research (STR). Rooms booked private rental accommodations are tracked through AirDNA. Cruise ship data is provided by Port of Halifax and airline travel from Halifax International Airport.


About Discover Halifax

Discover Halifax is non-profit, membership-based marketing and sales organization in partnership with the Halifax regional government, the Hotel Association of Nova Scotia and participating industry members. Since its inception in 2002, Discover Halifax’s goal is to promote Halifax as a destination of choice for leisure and business travellers.

Halifax typically welcomes 5.3 million overnight stays each year, who spend over $1 billion. Halifax alone represents over 54% of all visitation to Nova Scotia, and 34,000 people are employed in the tourism industry.

Media Contact:

Monica MacLean,
Communications director
Discover Halifax