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Visitation Statistics

Tourism Nova Scotia gathers and reports tourism statistics on behalf of the tourism industry. These statistics help inform our decision-making, help describe visitors to Nova Scotia, and can be used by tourism businesses and organizations for planning and business development. As tourism indicators are compiled from several sources, data becomes available at different times. Tourism Nova Scotia reports the most up-to-date statistics available so reporting timelines for each indicator may differ.

See Year-to-Date October Visitation Statistics 2023

Year-to-Date October 2023

May to October 2023

Visitation to Nova Scotia continued to recover in 2023 and Nova Scotia welcomed 1.5 million visitors during the May through October 2023 peak period, a 4% increase (62,000 more visitors) compared with the same time period in 2022. Visitation remained below 2019 levels, a decrease of 5% (84,000 fewer visitors). 

Although visitation to Nova Scotia from Canada increased compared with 2022, up 4% (44,000 more Canadian visitors), visitation remains below 2019 levels, down 2% (27,000 fewer visitors). This is primarily related to fewer visitors from Atlantic Canada, down 15% (99,000 fewer visitors) compared with 2019. Nova Scotia has seen robust growth in visitation from Ontario, the province’s largest source market outside of Atlantic Canada, with visitation up 3% (12,000 more visitors) in 2023 compared with 2022, and up 9% (40,000 more visitors) compared with 2019.

Visitation from the United States was up 13% (16,000 more US visitors) compared with 2022. However, visitation from the United States remains well below 2019 levels, down 31% (62,000 fewer visitors). 

Visitation from overseas markets was up 1% (1,000 more overseas visitors) compared with 2022, and remained above 2019 levels, up 7% (5,000 more overseas visitors). 

Between May and October, 934,000 visitors arrived by road, up 4% (37,000 more road visitors) compared with 2022 and down 12% (127,000 fewer road visitors) compared with 2019. 

Meanwhile, 586,000 visitors arrived by air in May through October 2023, up 4% (24,000 more air visitors) compared with 2022, and up 8% (43,000 more air visitors) compared with 2019. 

Year-to-Date October 2023

Year-to-date October 2023, a total of 1.9 million visitors have come to Nova Scotia, an increase of 15% (244,000 more visitors) compared with 2022 and a decrease of 7% (140,000 fewer visitors) compared with 2019. 

Year-to-date visitation reflects strong recovery in visitation during the first four months of 2023 compared with January – April 2022, although visitation during this period remained below 2019 levels. 

Of those 1.9 million visitors, 1,187,000 arrived by road (up 15% over the same period in 2022 and down 14% compared with 2019). 735,000 visitors arrived by air (up 14% over the same period in 2022 and up 8% over 2019).

While 2023 visitation is stronger compared with 2022, Nova Scotia will not reach 2019 levels of visitation this year, due primarily to soft recovery in visitation to Nova Scotia from both Atlantic Canada and the United States. 

Year-to-date October 2023, visitation from Atlantic Canada is down by 15% (143,000 fewer Atlantic Canada visitors) compared with 2019. In contrast, visitation from other Canadian markets has been strong, with visitation from Ontario up 8% and visitation from Western Canada up 18% compared with 2019. 

Internationally, Nova Scotia has seen 149,000 visitors from the United States to date in 2023 (a decrease of 32% against the same period in 2019), while 87,000 visitors arrived from overseas (an increase of 8% compared with the same period in 2019).

Non-resident Visitors to Nova Scotia:

Graph - Non-resident Overnight Visitation

2022 Visitation to Nova Scotia

Visitation to Nova Scotia recovered substantially in 2022, with Nova Scotia welcoming 1.9 million visitors, an increase of 1 million visitors compared with 2021. Visitation did not reach pre-pandemic levels, with 2022 representing a decline of 18% (or 415,000 fewer visitors) compared with 2019. 

Of those visitors, 1.2 million arrived by road (up 82% compared with 2021 and down 25% compared with 2019). Meanwhile, 725,000 visitors arrived by air (up 198% compared with 2021 and down 4% compared with 2019).

Although Atlantic Canadians continued to represent the largest share of visitors, accounting for 41% of overall visitation in 2022, visitation from Atlantic Canada did not recover to the same extent as other markets and was down by 31% compared with 2019. Visitation from Ontario was strong, representing 31% of overall visitation, up 1% compared with 2019. Visitors from Quebec accounted for 5% of visitors, down 9% compared with 2019.

Visitors from the United States accounted for 7%, down by 41% compared with 2019, while overseas visitation accounted for 5% of visitors, and was unchanged from 2019 at 86,000 visitors in 2022. 

Non-resident Visitors to Nova Scotia:

Bar graph comparing monthly visitation in 2022 with visitation in 2021 and 2019.

See Full-year 2022 Visitation Statistics

See 2022 Tourism Performance Report

2021 Non-resident Visitation

See the 2021 Tourism Performance Report (PDF)

See 2021 Visitors by Origin (PDF)

In 2021, Nova Scotia welcomed a total of 882,600 visitors. Based on visitation estimates for 2020, visitation was up 13% in 2021 compared with the first year of the pandemic, an increase of 103,000 visitors.  However, compared with 2019, before the pandemic began, visitation was down 62% (or 1.4 million fewer visitors). 

Overall, Atlantic Canadians made up 50% of all non-resident visitors through 2021, while visitors from Ontario made up 30%, visitors from Quebec made up 6%, visitors from Western Canada made up 10%, and US and overseas visitors accounted for 4% of visitation.

A total of 639,300 visitors arrived by road in 2021, down 1% compared with 2020 and down 59% compared with 2019. Meanwhile, 243,300 visitors arrived by air in 2021, an increase of 82% compared with 2020, but a decrease of 68% compared with 2019.

Non-resident Visitors to Nova Scotia
Bar graph comparing non-resident visitation in 2021 to 2019 by month.

About Visitation Statistics

Visitation 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
  • Data from Halifax International Airport Authority
  • Visitor data from provincial and community visitor information centres
  • Cruise passenger data from Halifax Port Authority and Sydney Ports Corporation
  • Attendance data from select tourism operators

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.