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Ross Jefferson

Ross Jefferson
President & Chief Executive Officer, Discover Halifax

Based on the current research and information, 2022 travel is going to be strong. It is important to be prepared and ready for a busy season.

It can be difficult to remind ourselves of brighter days ahead during challenging times. But that's what we've been focusing on lately at Discover Halifax – looking ahead with optimism.

We are confident in the recovery of the tourism industry. While we cannot predict epidemiology, our optimism is supported by industry research and data from experts like the Conference Board of Canada and Destination Canada. We also look to our research and business success to inform and guide us. And what we're learning from this insight is that we should anticipate a successful tourism season ahead. For example, the Canadian Tourism Research Institute predicts that interprovincial leisure travel will be up by 23 per cent compared to pre-Covid levels. While international visitation and business travel is expected to be lower, room nights sold (an indicator of tourism performance) is expected to be only 5-10 per cent lower than pre-COVID levels and experience complete recovery by 2023.

The pent-up demand for travel is an excellent opportunity to encourage people to consider Halifax as part of their travel plans. This year we are investing $750,000 in marketing campaigns to promote Halifax, with campaigns running the entire year. We started the year with our 10 Reasons to Visit Halifax in 2022 campaign, we're currently in market with Dine Around, and we will be in market with our March Break campaign later this month. We will continue to share news and updates about our campaigns. We are making significant investments in marketing the destination because we are confident in the rebound of tourism.

On the group sales side, the team at Discover Halifax is supporting 62 meetings, conferences, and events in 2022. Collectively, this translates to nearly 70,000 room nights sold. While business travellers will take longer to return, these numbers are incredibly promising.

Recently, we have been working with our economic partners and business leaders in the region to ensure we are aligned and planning accordingly for the high volume of predicted visitation. It has been uplifting to experience how stakeholders continue to come together to ensure that Halifax is vibrant and ready for what's shaping up to be a terrific year ahead.

We understand that there are ongoing issues like labour and supply shortages that continue to be difficult for businesses to navigate, and we appreciate the work you are doing to develop possible solutions.

We are leading with the philosophy that it is more important to be ready and pivot, if necessary, than not be prepared. As key suppliers in the industry, we encourage our Members to plan as best they can for an anticipated busy tourism season ahead.