As Atlantic Canada booms in the British market, Katie McGonagle finds out all you need to know about Nova Scotia
Canada’s Maritime provinces have long been overshadowed by their bigger neighbours, with iconic sights such as the Rockies or Niagara Falls. Yet with Halifax just a six-hour flight from the UK, Atlantic Canada is much closer than you think, and with its rich cultural heritage and gastronomic delights, there’s more than just stunning scenery to enjoy.
As operators report an upturn in enquiries about the region, we see what’s on offer in Nova Scotia with ideas for itineraries, what to do and how to sell it to your clients.
HOW TO SELL IT
The flight time is the biggest surprise for most clients, so make it a key selling point.
Lindsay Champion, marketing manager at the Nova Scotia department of economic and rural development and tourism, says: “Nova Scotia continues to become increasingly popular with UK visitors, and with a flying time of less than six hours, it is really a mid-haul destination.”
It also has a wide-ranging appeal – wildlife watchers will love spotting whales and other marine life; foodies will adore the locally-caught lobster, salmon, scallops and oysters, and the growing winery and brewery scene; adventurers will revel in the hiking trails and rock climbing; while history buffs can get their fill with the largest collection of Titanic artefacts in the world.
With quiet roads and short distances, self-drives are the most popular option. Itineraries include Travel 2’s 14-day Maritime Magic Treasures, from £1,769 including flights; Tailor Made Travel’s Culinary Delights of Nova Scotia from £1,199 for 14 days; and Virgin Holidays’ 15-night Unique Maritimes adventure, which also visits New Brunswick. Bridge & Wickers divides its week-long self-drive itineraries into east and west, although they can be combined for a longer visit.
There’s also the escorted tour option, such as Prestige Holidays’ nine-night Atlantic Maritimes tour, or North America Travel Service’s luxury Canadian Maritimes tour, which combines Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island from £3,229.
WHAT TO SEE
Halifax is the capital of Nova Scotia and the largest city in Atlantic Canada, so it’s worth staying a couple of nights. Titanic history is on show at the city’s Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, and whale watching is popular as the water is this area is described as an aquarium without walls, due to the large variety of marine mammals that feed and breed in the nutrient-rich waters. Get yourself some commission by booking it in advance – Thomas Cook Signature has an excursion for £31.
Clients can then head south towards Peggy’s Cove, a fishing village famed for its rocky shores and iconic lighthouse. Stop off at Prospect for ocean kayaking, or if it’s regatta time, go to the tiny hamlet of Chester where the harbour comes alive with yachts. Suggest a day trip such as Canadian Affair’s Peggy’s Cove Tour from Halifax (£33/£23).
The historic town of Lunenburg, the first British colonial settlement outside Halifax, is the next stop south. It’s small enough to explore on foot or by horse and carriage, but however your clients get around, make sure they head to the Old Town and learn about its proud seafaring history.
If clients have time, Kejimkujik National Park is worth a visit, where clients who hike the scenic trails can spot moose and deer.
The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world, reaching up to 16 metres at times, and clients can feel the force of the waves by going tidal bore rafting at the point where those tides clash with the outflow of the Shubenacadie River forming a rollercoaster of waves.
But if scenery is more their cup of tea, send them to Cape Breton Island to drive the Cabot Trail. Stop off at Ingonish along the way – it’s the perfect base for whale and puffin watching excursions – then embark on the 185-mile scenic Cabot Trail, consistently ranked one of best routes in North America.
Second-time visitors might also like the Fleur-de-lis Trail in the French-influenced southern part of the island, the Ceilidh Trail around the distinctly Scottish western shores, or the Bras d’Or Lake scenic drive.
WHERE TO STAY
Most visitors move around Nova Scotia, staying one or two nights in each place. Virgin Holidays and Bridge & Wickers both feature the four-star The Halliburton in Halifax, which oozes charm. Canadian Affair picks out the Atlantica Hotel Halifax for its value-for-money, plus luxury choice The Prince George.
Elsewhere in Nova Scotia, one-off B&Bs and lodges are the norm. While there are many budget-friendly choices, it’s possible to seek out luxury in the midst of the wilderness, such as at Trout Point Lodge, a rustic property in the southwest of the island with an outdoor hot tub. Prices start at £845 for four days with Tailor Made Travel.
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