Tourism Nova Scotia offers a range of resources and services to support tourism operators who want to start, expand, enhance or market an accommodation business.
If you’re just getting started or looking to expand your business, a great first step would be to review our Guide to Starting and Operating an Accommodation Business. The guide is full of practical information to help you work towards your vision for your business.
For more information about operating an accommodation business in Nova Scotia, please click on the following links.
All accommodation operators, except those operating in their primary residence, are required to register with the Province of Nova Scotia through the Tourist Accommodations Registration system. Campgrounds are not required to register unless they offer a fixed-roof accommodation on the property (cottage, bunk house, motel, hotel, etc.). If that is the case, those accommodations must be registered.
Please see the Tourist Accommodation Registration Act and Regulations for details about the rules for operating an accommodation in Nova Scotia.
For more information about the regulations, or to register your business, please visit https://novascotia.ca/touristaccommodation/
Below are things that should be considered when operating an accommodation business in Nova Scotia. The Province of Nova Scotia’s online business planning tool can help you determine any requirements for your specific business.
- Development Permit | Zoning Approval: Fixed-roof and campground accommodation operators should consult with your local municipal office about requirements for development permits and/or zoning approval. An occupancy permit and other permits may be required.
Find contact information for municipalities.
Further information is available through the Department of Municipal Affairs.
- Water System: Consult with the Department of Environment to determine if septic/sewer and water supply systems require approval.
- Fire Safety: There are mandatory fire safety requirements for fixed-roof and campground accommodations. For details, contact the municipal fire/building inspector or deputy fire marshal in your region.
- Registry of Joint Stock Companies: Most business in Nova Scotia are required to register with the Registry of Joint Stock Companies. We suggest that you review the Registry of Joint Stock Companies before selecting your business name to ensure that no one else is already using the name.
- Food Service: If you plan to operate any type of food service, permits must be obtained. Click here for more information.
- Alcohol Service: Licenses/permits are required if you plan to serve or provide alcohol in any capacity. Click here for more information.
- Commercial Tax: Depending on the type of accommodation business you are operating, your property may be assessed for commercial tax. Contact your municipality for further information.
- Harmonized Sales Tax: You may need to collect, file, and remit sales tax (HST). Contact the Canada Revenue Agency for more information.
- Signage: If you want to erect a sign for your business, you will need approval from the landowner and your municipality. You may also be eligible to apply for tourism attraction signage on the 100-series highways.
See Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal for details.
- Permanent Residence Status: In order to operate a business in Nova Scotia, you must be a permanent resident or Canadian citizen. Please refer to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and Nova Scotia Immigration for more information.
- Workers’ Compensation: You may be required to register and pay premiums to the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia (WCB) if you plan to hire employees to work at your accommodation. Contact WCB for more information.
- Occupational Health and Safety: As an employer, you will also have responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
- Human Rights Act: All accommodation operators and their staff should be familiar with the Human Rights Act and other related information available from the Human Rights Commission.
- Occupancy Reporting: To be eligible to participate in Tourism Nova Scotia’s programs and marketing channels, all fixed-roof and campground accommodation operators must submit monthly occupancy reports. Learn why these statistics are important, how to obtain reports, and how to submit occupancy data here.
Tourism Research – Tourism Nova Scotia conducts and shares research on travel trends, visitor profiles, and tourism performance indicators to help our organization and tourism stakeholders make informed business decisions. Find all our research reports, including monthly tourism performance statistics, on tourismns.ca. You may also be interested in reviewing the Nova Scotia Accommodations Needs Assessment Report.
Tourism Business Guides – Tourism Nova Scotia offers business coaching and advice, guides, and toolkits to help you start or enhance your business. See our business resources.
Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council (NSTHRC) – NSTHRC leads initiatives to develop a skilled tourism workforce in Nova Scotia and provides training and professional development opportunities. For more information, visit, https://tourismhrc.com/
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) – ACOA offers programs and services to help businesses get started, innovate, and become more competitive. See ACOA programs and services.
Canada Business Network – Canada Business Network can provide a wide range of business information to help you with business planning and navigating government regulations, programs and services. Connect with Canada Business Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia Business Navigators – Business Navigators can give you personalized and timely help with regulations and requirements, including registration, permits and licences. Contact the Business Navigation Service.
In a competitive global tourism industry, it is essential to provide visitors with exceptional experiences that exceed their expectations. Tourism Nova Scotia is focused on working with tourism operators to elevate quality and showcase the best of what Nova Scotia has to offer.
Our business development team can provide coaching and advice to help you enhance the quality of your business to help you attract visitors and grow repeat visitation.
Research shows peer reviews are a top source of inspiration for travellers, and are the new standard used by the travelling public to assess quality. We strongly recommend you manage your business profiles on platforms like TripAdvisor and Google Business, and encourage your guests to post reviews to help give other potential customers more confidence in choosing your business. A link to a peer review site is a requirement for business listings on Tourism Nova Scotia’s marketing channels.
You may also want to participate in a quality assessment program. To participate, please contact the individual programs below:
• Nova Scotia Approved – Quality First - Ainsley Bartram, TIANS, (902) 300-7286
• Canada Select and Camping Select - Ronald van der Weegen, (902) 406-4747
• Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) - Corey Dalling, (905) 607-7555
Across the province, operators are developing unique accommodations that help set Nova Scotia apart as a vacation destination. Read these success stories from new or recently expanded accommodations to see what sets them apart, what motivates the operators to be part of the tourism industry, and what advice they have for excelling in the accommodation sector.
When you’re ready to start welcoming visitors, you can work with Tourism Nova Scotia to promote your business to national and international travellers through our marketing channels, including the Doers & Dreamers Guide, NovaScotia.com and provincial visitor information centres. Find out more on our marketing opportunities page.
If you have further questions about starting or operating an accommodation business, please contact: