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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.

December 2021 Non-resident Visitation

December 2021 Non-resident Visitation

According to statistics gathered by Tourism Nova Scotia, the province welcomed 63,000 non-resident visitors in the month of December 2021, an increase of 209% (or 43,000 more visitors) compared with December 2020. That is the largest monthly percentage increase in relation to 2020 since the recovery began last summer – even larger than the increases seen in August and September. At the same time, the number of visitors in December was still down 44% (or 49,000 fewer visitors) compared with December 2019. 

In December, 36,000 visitors arrived by road, an increase of 133% (or 21,000 more visitors) compared with the same month in 2020, and a decline of 53% (41,000 fewer visitors) compared with December 2019. There were 27,000 visitors that arrived by air, an increase of 445% (or 22,000 more visitors) compared with the same month in 2020, and a decline of 22% from December 2019 (7,000 fewer visitors). 

Atlantic Canada was the largest source of non-resident visitors in December, accounting for 49% of overall visitation. Visitors from the United States and overseas accounted for 4% of all December visitation.



2020 Non-resident Visitation

Data collection was paused at certain times during 2020 due to the pandemic. Tourism Nova Scotia has now developed an estimate of full-year visitation using available data sources. Approximately 779,000 non-resident visitors came to Nova Scotia in 2020, a decrease of 66% compared with 2019 (down 1.5 million visitors). 

Non-resident Visitors to Nova Scotia (August to December):

Bar graph showing decline in non-resident visitors to Nova Scotia from August to December 2020 compared with the same months in 2019.

About Visitation 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.

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

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.