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Ross Jefferson

Ross Jefferson
President & Chief Executive Officer, Discover Halifax

Halifax's tourism industry is well positioned to recover and regain stability after an uncertain 18 months. The ability to do this successfully depends on destination alignment—a key focus of Halifax's Integrated Tourism Master Plan and a prominent strategy outlined in a new global tourism study.

Uncertainty has swirled around us for the last 18 months. As we've continued to navigate a global pandemic that has brought three lockdowns here in Nova Scotia, doing our best to remain optimistic about brighter days ahead has been crucial. Though optimism is essential, we also needed an action plan to support the tourism industry and help with recovery. At Discover Halifax, we developed our three-phase recovery plan. We built the plan to support our community and industry, prepare for a safe reopening when the time was right, and help accelerate recovery beyond COVID.

Welcoming visitors back

Now, we are in the final phase, and the industry is working to build back better. While recovery of the tourism industry will not happen overnight, we are inspired by positive signs of stability like the return of visitors to our region. We anticipated a pent-up demand for travel, and we've seen it come to fruition throughout the summer. Seeing visitors return is vital to our economy. Before COVID, spending from tourists was estimated to exceed $1.3 billion each year, and today, over 4,000 businesses employ over 34,000 people.

A path forward

So, how do we not only help the industry recover but help to build back better? I believe Halifax's Integrated Tourism Master Plan (ITMP) is the answer. The ITMP was developed to drive and prioritize the efforts and investments to recover sustainable economic growth from the region's tourism economy. Success will depend on the alignment of our tourism industry leaders, government, and community.

That’s why last week, when Destinations International released the 2021 DestinationNEXT Futures Study, I was thrilled to see the study recommend an approach that is reflective of Halifax's ITMP. The 2021 Futures Study—a strategic roadmap that provides direction for how destination leaders should navigate the future of tourism—focuses on three areas to help strategize for the future. The areas include destination alignment, sustainable development, and values-based marketing. The insight and expertise in the study affirm that the tourism industry in our region is on the right track. We are confident where we are heading and will continue to focus on destination alignment in our region.

The global study included more than 706 participants in 52 countries. I was honoured to be a member of the Global Advisory Panel, representing Discover Halifax and the Halifax region.

The full DestinationNEXT Futures Study can be found here if you're interested in learning more.