Developing tourism in Nova Scotia: opportunities and risks

Friday, September 21, 2007
by Peter Johnson

Tourism is an important contributor to the Nova Scotian economy. Estimates put the number of jobs created by tourism at around 33,000, and the dollar value to be over $1.3 billion in 2004.

Developing new tourism attractions and accommodations is a process that can involve benefits and risks. One way to reduce these risks to tourism development is through planning and anticipating certain scenarios.

Possible scenarios:

  • “What if ferry access to southern Nova Scotia is reduced?”
  • “What if we develop another major attraction in Nova Scotia?”
  • “Would raising awareness of our community attract more tourists?”

Making models can help us to answer these type of “what if” questions. A model of a toursim system can help to sharpen our thinking about possible developments and strategies. Models aren’t crystal balls that predict the future, but they can help us develop new ideas, and see where they might lead.

My name is Peter Johnson, and I am a PhD student in the department of Geography at McGill University Montreal. I work under the guidance of Dr. Renee Sieber. I am conducting research on tourism planning and development in Nova Scotia, and how models can be used to provide planning support. More specifically, I’m interested in the use of simulation modeling tools by those involved in the process of tourism planning (this can occur at the local, regional, provincial level).

I’ve made a prototype web-based model of some tourism dynamics in Nova Scotia. This model presents a very simplified view of tourists travelling according to their accommodation and activity preferences and the supply at each destination. This model is based on data from the Canadian Travel Survey, and the International Travel Survey, both produced by Statistics Canada.

To learn all about TourSim, and try out a scenario for yourself, click on Tutorial to learn the basics, and then head on to the Tourism Scenarios. I’ve assembled a scenario where you can change the percentage of tourists who enter Nova Scotia at each port of entry, looking at the effects of more flights to Halifax, more ferry service to Yarmouth, and many other dynamics.

Also, I encourage you to leave comments at the bottom of any page.

Many thanks,

Peter Johnson