Like so many rural communities on the Island, Central Cape Breton faces a major issue with regards to resident demographics. Our young people must leave to find employment after schooling is complete, and the older generation is dying off fast. Our children, both the Gael and Mi’kmaq, although wishing to remain, are forced to emigrate from the area due to a variety of reasons, including a lack of employment opportunities. Àros na Mara has the potential to reverse worrying population trends by capitalizing and building upon the area’s natural assets.
The local area has been experiencing substantial increases in tourist visitation over the past several years due to a perpetually increasing interest in the world famous Cabot Trail as well a the development of world class golf resorts in Inverness. The development of the Àros na Mara Centre is perfectly aligned with the 2014 One Nova Scotia Coalition Collaborative Action Plan, which identified the vital impact that tourism expansion would have on Nova Scotia and, in particular, Cape Breton. The province of Nova Scotia has a goal to achieve $4 billion in tourism revenues by 2024, and this initiative relies heavily on the development of local organizations to take the reigns and develop experiences tourists would be interested in.
In 2016, there were 2.24 million visitors from outside of Nova Scotia, representing the highest number of visitation in over ten years according to the Tourist Accommodation Needs Assessment conducted by Group ATN Consulting Inc. According to this study, visitors from outside of Atlantic Canada represented slightly more than half of the province’s visitors and visitors from Ontario represented 37% of all visitors to the province, a 23% increase over the 2011 figures. Visitors from the United States represented 10% of the total out-of-province visitation for 2016, increasing almost 30% from 2011 to 2016.
According to the Tourist Accommodation Needs Assessment, Tourism Nova Scotia has adopted Destination Cape Breton’s Explorer Quotient (EQ) travel-value based segmentation model that categorizes markets based on their travel values, interests, and preferences. Nova Scotia’s three main Explorer Quotient (EQ) segments are as follows:
- Authentic Experiencers
- Cultural Explorers
- Free Spirits All three segments enjoy nature, scenic coastlines and beaches, wildlife viewing, and national parks. CCBCVI’s Àros na Mara Centre will be in a position to offer each of these three segments unique experiences that will create a memorable experience.
Social / Behavioural Trends
Seasonality remains an important obstacle in the quest to achieve the goal of $4 billion in tourism revenues by 2024, and it is an obstacle that must be addressed if the goal is to be achieved. The majority of out-of-province visitors tend to undertake visits during the peak season, so strategic efforts are required if the tourism season is to be expanded, which includes the development of attractions such as the Àros na Mara Centre and enhanced marketing to the target visitor. Àros na Mara will appeal to all three segments, especially Authentic Experiencers and Cultural Explorers. According to the Tourist Accommodation Needs Assessment created by Group ATN Consulting Inc., “seasonality will require a dedicated strategy”, and increased marketing will be vital in the successful implementation of initiatives addressing seasonality. In order to accommodate for this projected increase in visitors, we must offer activities for the visitor, and the Àros na Mara Centre will be a key component in this initiative.
General Industry Trends
Recent figures released by Statistics Canada indicate that “Tourism is a vital and growing part of the Canadian economy. From 2014 to 2017, Canada’s tourism sector gained ground by almost every measure. International arrivals in Canada grew by an average of 8% per year and the tourism sector’s contribution to GDP grew by an average of 4.6% per year. From 2014 to 2017, the number of jobs in Canada’s tourism sector grew by an average of 1.7% per year.”
According to Destination Canada, Millennial Tourism is the fastest growing demographic within the tourist industry: “Canada offers a wide range of exciting travel experiences for Millennial travellers including:
- Vast geography, diverse landscape, and beautiful scenery
- Wide range of exciting outdoor activities
- Wide range of season-specific outdoor activities (i.e. winter, summer, fall activities) Because one of the objectives of the Àros na Mara Centre will be to allow visitors to experience the local area through a number of different ways, it fits in perfectly with these items. Another notable industry release is the “Canada Millennial Domestic Travel Summary Report”, which was issued by Destination Canada. Without alienating the existing visitor demographics to the region, Àros na Mara will consider the following when developing all marketing strategies:
- Millennials are the fastest growing travel segment and one of the largest and most influential groups of travellers worldwide. The unique character of this market offers many other benefits to the tourism sector.
- Millennials often spend more in destinations than other tourists because they travel for longer periods.
- Millennials travel more frequently and further than other age groups.
- Millennials are likely to return to the destination over their lifetime.
- Millennials are pioneer travellers who discover and promote destinations not yet visited by traditional tourists.
- Millennials play an important role in the tourism landscape and image of destinations.
- Millennials are instigators of travel trends and thrive on influencing others.
- Millennials are at the cutting edge of technology and are more connected than any other age group making them more likely to use technology to make recommendations.
- A large percentage of millennials value travel as an essential aspect of their lives. Àros na Mara believes that Millennials will remain committed to experience and activity tourism as they grow older, and will become the core demographic for the business over time. By developing an aggressive marketing campaign that focuses on this demographic, a loyal customer base will be secured for the next 30 years. The According to the Aithisg Bhliadnhal Annual Resport of 2019 – 2020, the visitation figures to the Nova Scotia Highland Village are outlined in the following table:
Visitation By Source