Lonely Planet Writer

Tourism is booming in Canada's second smallest province, Nova Scotia, and here's why

When most travellers think of Canada – they think immediately of big cities like Montreal and Toronto, and further west, the Rocky Mountains and Vancouver.

Lighthouse on rocky coast at sunset, Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
Lighthouse on rocky coast at sunset, Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada Image by 500px

Nova Scotia, one of the lesser-known provinces of Canada however, is quietly emerging as a major destination and has been breaking its own records for tourism. In August, nearly 400,000 people came from outside the area to stay the night in one of the many hotels and guesthouses, of what is Canada’s second smallest province. As Michele Saran, the CEO of Tourism Nova Scotia, explained: “we haven’t seen an August like this in more than fifteen years of tracking visitation … these numbers confirm the positive stories we’ve been hearing from businesses right across the province.”

According to their figures, the majority of the increase came through visitors arriving by air with numbers up 21% when compared to the previous August. Of the visitor numbers, 331,000 were from other parts of Canada, mainly the neighbouring maritime provinces, along with Ontario and Quebec. More than 50,000 people came from the United States, mostly from nearby New England, with another 15,000 coming from overseas.

In terms of where visitors were headed, most visitors stayed the night in the capital Halifax, famous for its Pier 21 where more than one million immigrants first arrived in Canada. It is also home to the spectacular Fort George on Citadel Hill, as well as the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Cape Breton Island was next most popular with its spectacular scenery and famous Cabot Trail, a 185-mile scenic route around the north tip of the island. Other popular destinations included the Bay of Fundy, which is renowned for having the highest tidal range in the world. Annapolis Valley with its growing reputation for wine production is also proving a draw with around 70 grape growers and more than 20 wineries in the region.