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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Tourism Industry Resource Page

Last updated: April 3, 2020.

The impact of COVID-19 has already had a significant loss in tourism revenues and we estimate that, with the Cape Breton Island tourism industry essentially shutting down from March 16 possibly to the end of June, the loss of direct tourism revenues will be in the vicinity of $95 million, plus spinoffs. Beyond that period, there is tremendous uncertainty.

To assist the industry at this difficult time, we have compiled a list of resources and will continue to add updates to provide a portal that you may consult for the latest information.

The Current Situation

We don’t know the full impact this outbreak will have on the 2020 tourism season on the Island, but it has already had a significant effect:

  • The Team Japan training camp that was to take place in Port Hawkesbury in advance of the IIHF Women’s World Cup has been postponed to 2021;
  • Science Atlantic conferences and Psychology of Language Learning conference at Cape Breton University have been cancelled;
  • The Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities has cancelled it’s spring conference which was scheduled for May in Sydney;
  • The cruise season has been delayed until July 1, with the loss of 22 ship calls to the Port of Sydney;
  • The Vince Ryan Memorial Hockey Tournament and the Wallace Bernard Memorial Native Youth Hockey Tournament have been cancelled;
  • The Canadian National Darts Championships, both Youth and Adults, have been cancelled; and
  • Bookings are being effected.

As of Thursday, March 19, restaurants are restricted to take-out and delivery orders only. They can’t open for in-person dining. All drinking establishments, winery and distillery tasting rooms and craft taprooms must close (private liquor stores can operate, and craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries can still sell their products from their storefronts). Destination Cape Breton has set-up to promote take out and delivery options to Cape Breton residents. To be listed, please contact [email protected].

Parks Canada has temporarily suspended all visitor services in all national parks and national historic sites. Visitor facilities will be closed temporarily, including washrooms and day use facilities. Parks Canada is also temporarily suspending all motor vehicle access by visitors at all national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas effective 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 until further notice. Highways and roadways which pass through Parks Canada places will remain open.  Full Parks Canada news release available here.

Nova Scotia has declared a state of emergency. Gatherings will be limited to five people. Police are authorized to enforce orders under the Health Protection Act related to self-isolation and social distancing, and can issue summary offence tickets for people who are not adhering to those orders. Anyone who has travelled outside the province will need to self-isolate for 14 days. There will be controls enforced at the borders of the province to restrict travel.

Although traffic to Destination Cape Breton’s website from our key markets was up 93% year-to-date over 2019 up to March 12, it has since dropped significantly and we have paused the vast majority of our marketing activities to conserve resources for an eventual recovery campaign. We are hopeful that healthy travellers from our key markets will want to visit us when it is deemed to be safe to do so and we are advocating for a robust recovery plan from the Federal and Provincial governments.

We agree with the World Tourism Organization that “the tourism sector is committed to putting people and their well-being first.” As such, we will continue to monitor and follow the direction of public health leaders.

Please note: Destination Cape Breton has closed its office until further notice and staff are working remotely.

Support for the Tourism Industry

Government of Canada Resources for Canadian Businesses
Click Here

ACOA support for tourism operators affected by COVID-19
Click here to learn more

Government of Nova Scotia Support
Support for individuals, families and businesses

Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)
Click here to learn more

TIANS is requesting that all tourism operators complete their Business Confidence Survey related to COVID-19.
Please click here to complete the survey

Tourism & COVID-19 News

April 3, 2020
Prime Minister: Military heading to Quebec, $100M coming for foodbanks
Nova Scotia reports 14 new cases of COVID-19; total at 207

April 2, 2020
Province extends state of emergency 2 weeks; 20 new COVID-19 cases announced
Prime Minister questioned on COVID-19 projections, implores people to stay home 

April 1, 2020
Trudeau to recall Parliament to pass multibillion COVID-19 aid increase
‘Now is the time for us to stay close to home,’ says Nova Scotia’s top doctor

March 31, 2020
Prime Minister Trudeau says $2 billion going towards protective equipment
NS government warns of misinformation amid COVID-19 crisis

March 30, 2020
Businesses seeing 30% drop in revenue due to pandemic will be eligible for wages subsidies
Nova Scotia school closures extended to May 1 due to COVID-19

March 28, 2020
Developing a rapid COVID-19 test is in the works in Canada, globally
Canadians with COVID-19 symptoms to be denied boarding on domestic flights, trains says Prime Minister

March 27, 2020
Government boosts wage subsidy to 75% for small, medium businesses to avoid layoffs during COVID-19 crisis
Nova Scotia announces 17 new cases, bringing total to 90

March 26, 2020
Nova Scotia reports 5 new COVID-19 cases, including one with no apparent link to travel
Prime Minister warns of COVID-19 emergency benefit ‘scam’

March 25, 2020
Feds announce boost to emergency COVID-19 aid benefit
17 new COVID-19 cases identified in Nova Scotia, bringing total to 68

March 24, 2020
House of Commons suspends as government, opposition spar over COVID-19 aid package
Nova Scotia increasing 811 staffing levels, COVID-19 testing capacity

March 23, 2020
Prime Minister says people must follow COVID-19 health measures, commits funds for vaccine
Nova Scotia reports 13 new cases of COVID-19, including one involving a child
How small businesses can apply for COVID-19 wage subsidy

March 22, 2020
Nova Scotia declares state of emergency in response to COVID-19
Canada’s hotel industry hammered by COVID-19

March 21, 2020
Canada-U.S. border now closed to non-essential travel
Nova Scotia announces 6 new coronavirus cases, shuts down dentist offices

March 20, 2020
Nova Scotia pledges $161 million to help small businesses weather COVID-19

March 19, 2020
Nova Scotia boosts funding for food banks, income assistance and bans evictions
Prime Minister announces the Canada-US border to shut down this weekend
Several companies say they will be lenient with customers who cannot pay bills during COVID-19
Air Canada to suspend most US, international flights amid coronavirus pandemic 

March 18, 2020
Prime Minister announces more support for workers and businesses through Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
Canada’s six biggest banks take decisive action to help customers impacted by COVID-19
Canada, U.S. to temporarily close border to non-essential traffic over coronavirus

March 17, 2020
Morneau to announce plan to help workers affected by coronavirus outbreak soon
Rendezvous Canada 2020 has been cancelled
Nova Scotia introduces new restrictions as COVID-19 cases rise to 7
Parks Canada suspending visitor services at all National Parks and Historic Sites

March 16, 2020
Canada to bar entry to travellers who are not citizens, permanent residents or Americans
1 case of COVID-19 now confirmed in Nova Scotia, 4 more are presumptive
Impact of the Coronavirus on Short-Term rental markets

March 15, 2020
Provincial visitor information centres to close until further notice
Ottawa advises Canadians not to travel abroad
American Airlines cutting international flights by 75% amid demand collapse

March 14, 2020
Halifax airport updating pandemic plan, increasing cleaning
All Nova Scotia Museum sites closed

March 13, 2020
New Coronavirus Measures In N.S. Will Impact Theatres, Bars, Travellers
Federal ministers announce international travel restrictions to prevent coronavirus spread
Nova Scotia will miss out on dozens of cruises due to COVID-19
CBRM closing recreational buildings, scaling back meetings because of COVID-19
Transport Minister Marc Garneau announces that the cruise ship season will be delayed until July 1
Note: this applies to ships of more than 500 people and impacts 22 ship visits at the Port of Sydney.

March 12, 2020
Nova Scotia tourism businesses fear major hit over COVID-19
Attractions [in the US] closed and events canceled amid coronavirus outbreak

March 11, 2020
Government of Canada releases risk-informed decision-making guidelines for events

March 10, 2020
Joint Statement from US Leaders of Travel and Events
World Travel & Tourism Council reveals responsible travel tips to counter the coronavirus outbreak

March 9, 2020
Maritime cruise ship ports concerned about COVID-19

March 8, 2020
Minister of Economic Development Mélanie Joly comments on COVID-19 impact on tourism
Hockey Canada statement on cancellation of IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship