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Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia

Tourism Statistics

Tourism Nova Scotia gathers and reports tourism statistics on behalf of the tourism industry. These statistics help inform our decision-making process, help describe visitors to Nova Scotia, and can be used by tourism businesses and organizations for planning and business development.

Tourism statistics are compiled from a variety of sources, including:

  • In-person surveys administered to passengers at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport
  • Motor vehicle enumeration at the Nova Scotia – New Brunswick border
  • Passenger information from ferry operators
  • The Nova Scotia Visitor Exit Survey
  • Operator accommodation occupancy reports
  • Cruise passenger data from Halifax Port Authority and Sydney Ports Corporation
  • Data from Halifax International Airport Authority
  • Attendance data from select tourism operators
  • Room rate data from CBRE Limited
  • Visitor data from provincial and community visitor information centres

These statistics reflect the combined efforts of tourism businesses, organizations, communities, and governments, and include activities by both Nova Scotians and non-resident visitors. There are many factors that contribute to tourism industry performance including events, weather, gas prices, air capacity, currency fluctuations, geo-political circumstances, and industry initiatives such as marketing. Tourism Nova Scotia is just one organization among many contributing to tourism growth. We support tourism growth through marketing in key national and international markets, support for experience and business development, and visitor servicing. For more information about Tourism Nova Scotia's strategy and performance, please see Plans & Reports.

Year to Date 2020 Tourism Indicators

Year to Date October 2020 Accommodations Activity in Nova Scotia

Accommodations operators across the province report 1,098,000 room nights sold year to date as of October 2020, down 55% compared with the same period in 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to severely affect Nova Scotia’s fixed roof accommodation providers, with a decline of 45% in room nights sold in October alone (a difference of 118,000 room nights sold compared with October 2019). Despite the challenges facing the industry, the October losses confirm an ongoing improvement since May, when monthly room night sales were down 77% compared with the same period in 2019. Over the summer and fall, the size of the monthly decline has consistently narrowed, suggesting increasing interest and confidence in travel within the Atlantic bubble.

All regions of the province have seen declines in room nights sold as a result of the pandemic. As of the end of October, Halifax (-58%) and Cape Breton (-55%) have experienced the largest year to date percentage declines. The smallest year to date declines are in the regions of Yarmouth & Acadian Shores* and Eastern Shore, with each region down 38%.

Looking specifically at the month of October, the most notable decline in room nights sold was in the region of Halifax, down 59%. The monthly decline in Cape Breton, though still substantial at -34%, was the smallest monthly decline in that region since March – and the first time since April that the decline in room night sales in Cape Breton was less than -50%.

Another notable change in October was an 1,100 increase in room nights sold in the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores region compared with the same month last year. The region’s largest accommodation providers report several reasons for the increase, including some large-scale fall construction projects in the area requiring overnight stays for work crews.

*The year to date October 2020 decline of 38% in room nights sold in the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores region follows the decline of 23% YTD October 2019, reflecting the ferry not operating.

Nova Scotia Room Nights Sold (TNS Accommodations Database):

Bar graph comparing room nights sold from January - October 2020 to the same period in 2019.

Campground activity

This month Tourism Nova Scotia is reporting campground activity for the June to October period. Activity ranged from a high of 174,000 campground site nights sold in August (down 32% from the same month in 2019) to a low of 42,000 site nights sold in October (down 30%).

Notably, the percentage decline in campground site nights sold was less pronounced than that of room nights sold. Between June and October, site night losses ranged between -17% and -40% on a monthly basis, while room night losses ranged between -45% and -74% over the same period. This suggests that while the pandemic depressed sales for both accommodation types, it was less severe for campgrounds, which likely saw greater benefit from Nova Scotians and perhaps other Atlantic residents travelling within the Atlantic bubble.

Year to Date November 2020 Sharing Economy Platforms Activity

According to AirDNA data, for the period of year to date November 2020, there were 310,000 room nights booked through sharing economy platforms, a decrease of 33% compared to the same period in 2019.

Room nights booked through sharing economy platforms were down by 23% in the month of November, compared with the same month last year.

Room Nights Booked Through Sharing Economy Platforms:
Bar graph comparing sharing economy room nights booked in January - November 2020 with the same period in 2019

Year to Date October 2020 Non-resident Visitation

Non-resident visitation to Nova Scotia was down 65% in October 2020 compared to the same month the previous year. According to statistics gathered by Tourism Nova Scotia, there were 68,000 non-resident visitors to Nova Scotia in October, with 8,000 arriving by air (down 91%, or 73,000 fewer visitors) and 61,000 arriving by road (down 46%, or 53,000 fewer visitors). Notably, there were more visitors in October than September (61,000 road visitors in October compared with 58,000 in September), reflective of the increased comfort in travelling within the Atlantic bubble.

Atlantic Canadians made up a higher share of visitors to Nova Scotia in October 2020 compared to the same period in previous years. Atlantic Canadians accounted for 46% of overall October visitation in 2019. This year, 57,900, or 85% of October visitors were Atlantic Canadians. In addition, 14% of October visitors were from other regions of Canada (compared with 37% in October 2019), and 2% were US/overseas visitors (compared with 17% in October 2019). All visitors from outside of Atlantic Canada are required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arriving in Nova Scotia.

Non-resident Visitors to Nova Scotia:
Bar graph comparing visitation in August- October 2020 with the same period in 2019. 

Tourism Nova Scotia’s operations were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we were unable to conduct enumeration activities between mid-March and July 2020. Our enumerators were able to resume work at the beginning of August. In the meantime, we are working to develop estimates of visitation for the March-July period, and expect to be able to publish these at a later date.

Year to Date November 2020 Passenger Enplanements at Halifax Stanfield International Airport

While passenger enplanements are not representative of visitation to Nova Scotia, they reflect passenger traffic (both Nova Scotians and non-resident visitors) at the Halifax airport, which is a good indicator of how travel to Nova Scotia is being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Year to date November 2020, enplanements reached 473,000, a decline of 76% compared with the same period in 2019. For the actual month of November 2020 there were 19,000 enplanements, a decrease of 85% compared with November 2019.

Passenger Enplanements at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport:
Bar graph comparing passenger enplanements in January - November 2020 with the same period in 2019. 

See the complete Year to Date Tourism Performance Indicators (as of October 2020).



2019 Nova Scotia Tourism Indicators

Nova Scotia Visitation – 2019

Approximately 2,301,000 non-resident overnight visitors came to Nova Scotia in 2019, a decline of 5% or 112,300 fewer visitors compared with 2018. Visitation by air declined by 8% (-62,200). Visitation by road decreased by 3% (-50,100) from 2018.

Overnight Visitors to Nova Scotia 2019

Visitor Origin 2019
Non-resident Visitors
Change vs 2018
% Number of Visitors
Canada 1,983,000 -4% -90,800
Atlantic Canada 1,108,000 -4% -51,300
Quebec 112,000 -6% -7,800
Ontario 577,000  -4% -23,500
Western Canada 185,000 -4% -8,300
United States 232,000 -1% -3,400
Overseas 86,000 -17% -18,100
Total 2,301,000 -5% -112,300

Three external events contributed to the decline: 1) the grounding of the Boeing MAX aircraft resulted in a significant decline in air capacity from overseas markets, as well as a decline in domestic air capacity; 2) the Maine-Nova Scotia ferry did not operate in 2019; and 3) Hurricane Dorian contributed to a significant decline in visitation in September 2019.

Nova Scotia Licensed Accommodations - 2019

Licensed accommodation activity includes licensed accommodations purchased by Nova Scotians and non-residents, and people travelling for both tourism and non-tourism reasons. This data does not include any non-licensed accommodations sold through the sharing economy.

In 2019, there were 2,742,000 licensed room nights sold in Nova Scotia, down 1% compared to 2018. The occupancy rate declined by 1 percentage-point to 54%. Room nights sold increased in the Halifax region, while the remaining regions experienced declines compared with 2018.

Region 2019 Licensed Room Nights Sold % Change vs. 2018
Halifax 1,524,000 +2%
South Shore 178,000 -2%
Eastern Shore 18,000 -9%
Cape Breton 442,000 -1%
Northumberland Shore 190,000 -4%
Bay of Fundy & Annapolis Valley 334,000 -6%
Yarmouth & Acadian Shores 57,000 -20%

Sharing Economy

Room nights booked through sharing economy platforms, which includes both licensed and unlicensed accommodations, reached 514,000 in 2019, an increase of 41% over the same period in 2018.

Tourism Revenues

Tourism revenues reached an estimated $2.64 billion in 2019, a decline of 3.3% compared with the updated tourism revenues estimate of $2.73 billion for 2018. For more information about tourism revenues estimates, please see Tourism Revenues.

See the full 2019 Tourism Performance Report.

2018 Nova Scotia Tourism Indicators

Tourism Nova Scotia produces an annual report on tourism performance indicators on behalf of Nova Scotia's tourism industry.

About 2,413,000 non-resident overnight visitors came to Nova Scotia in 2018, just 0.8 per cent or 19,500 fewer visitors than in 2017, which saw the highest visitation in Nova Scotia’s history.

Tourism Nova Scotia produces annual estimates of overall tourism revenues, which are updated as new information becomes available. Tourism revenues reached an estimated $2.73 billion in 2018. For more information about tourism revenues estimates, please see Tourism Revenues.

See the full 2018 Tourism Performance Report.