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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 August 2020 Accommodations Activity in Nova Scotia

Accommodations operators from across the province report 810,000 room nights sold year to date August 2020, a decrease of 56% compared with the same period in 2019.

Fixed-roof accommodation data continues to reveal the dramatic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nova Scotia’s tourism industry, with a decline of 58% in room nights sold in August (a loss of 230,000 room nights sold) compared with August 2019. At the same time, declines in room nights sold moderated in August compared to June and July, suggesting a somewhat improving trend, and increasing confidence in travel by Nova Scotians and Atlantic Canadians as the summer progressed.

All regions of the province have seen significant declines in room nights sold as a result of the pandemic. To the end of August, Cape Breton has experienced the largest percentage decline of 60% year to date, while the lowest year to date declines are in the Yarmouth & Acadian Shores* (down 48%) and Eastern Shore (down 41%) regions.

Looking specifically at the month of August, the most notable declines in room nights sold were seen in the Halifax (down 67%) and Cape Breton (down 56%) regions.

*The decline of 48% in room nights sold in the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores region follows the decline of 23% YTD August 2019, reflecting the ferry not operating.

Nova Scotia Room Nights Sold (TNS Accommodations Database):

Bar graph representing room nights sold in Nova Scotia from January to August 2020

Year to Date August 2020 Sharing Economy Platforms Activity in Nova Scotia

According to AirDNA data, for the period of year to date August 2020, there were 227,000 room nights booked through sharing economy platforms, a decrease of 32% compared to the same period in 2019.

Room nights booked through sharing economy platforms were down by 42% in August compared to the same month last year.

Room Nights Booked Through Sharing Economy Platforms:

Bar graph representing January - August sharing economy room nights booked

August Non-resident Visitation

Reflective of the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, non-resident visitation to Nova Scotia was down 74% in August 2020. According to statistics gathered by Tourism Nova Scotia, there were 106,000 non-resident visitors to Nova Scotia in August, with 11,000 visitors arriving by air (down 92%), and 95,000 visitors arriving by road (down 67%).

As a result of the pandemic, Atlantic Canadians made up a higher share of visitors to Nova Scotia in August 2020 than the same period in previous years. Atlantic Canadians typically account for about one-third of overall August visitation (with 35% of visitors being Atlantic residents in August 2019). This year, 80,700 or 76% of August visitors were Atlantic Canadians, traveling within the Atlantic bubble. In addition, 22% of August visitors were from other regions of Canada, and fewer than 2% were international visitors. 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 August 2020 visitation to Nova Scotia to August 2019 visitation.

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. We are working to develop estimates of visitation for the March-July period, and expect to be able to publish these later this year.

Year-to-date August 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 International Airport, which is a good indicator of how travel to Nova Scotia is being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of the end of August 2020, enplanements reached 409,000, a decline of 71% compared with the same period in 2019.  For the month of August 2020, there were 29,000 passenger enplanements, a decrease of 88% compared with August 2019.

Passenger Enplanements at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport:

Bar graph January - August passenger enplanements

See the complete Year to Date Tourism Performance Indicators (as of August 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.