Author Archives: Colleen Bowes

Atlantic Canada Tourism Study – Key Findings Report

The aim of the Atlantic Canada Tourism Study was to provide early insights into what will almost certainly be an evolving and enduring existential shift in the consumer mindset. This study will also contribute to the foundation for a go-forward plan to advance through a recovery phase.

The study was divided into two phases. The first phase was focused on Atlantic Canadian intentions and attitudes toward intra-provincial and intra-regional travel. The second phase provided updated data on Atlantic Canadians and expanded to gauge Central Canadian sentiment, specifically in southern Ontario and Quebec. Future research may expand Canada-wide.

The following document outlines the results of the Atlantic Canada Tourism Study, synthesizing phases 1 and 2 of data collection, highlighting key findings and recommendations.

Atlantic Canada Tourism Study Phase 2 – September 2020

On March 11th, 2020 the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic is having a dramatic impact on the Atlantic Canada economies, and the challenge for the tourism sector has been amplified by closures and travel restrictions. Social distancing, capacity limitations, and traveller sentiment will continue to impact the tourism industry into the future even as travel restrictions slowly begin to ease.

The aim of this research is to provide early insights into what will almost certainly be an evolving and enduring existential shift in the consumer mindset. This Travel Study will also contribute to the foundation for a go-forward plan to advance through a recovery phase.

The study is divided into two phases. The first phase was focused on Atlantic Canadian intentions and attitudes toward intra-provincial and intra-regional travel. The second phase provides updated data on Atlantic Canadians and expands to gauge Central Canadian sentiment, specifically in southern Ontario and Quebec. Future research may expand Canada-wide.

This report highlights the results of the Phase 2 and comparisons with Phase 1 results. 

Atlantic Canada and the US Market – Who, What, Where and When

In 2018, the Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism (ACAT) invested in a direct-to-consumer advertising campaign in the Mid-Atlantic (New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) and New England (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont and Rhode Island) regions of the United States. This campaign positioned the four Atlantic Provinces as preferred leisure travel destinations among identified Explorer Quotient (EQ) segments.

The targeted segments for the ACAT 2018 campaign included Older Authentic Experiencers, Younger Authentic Experiencers and Cultural Explorers.

ACAT conducted consumer research within these markets using a targeted approach and segments to understand traveler characteristics and interests, travel behavior and destination experiences, activities as well as assess destination and brand awareness. Check out the 2018 US Consumer Study and Highlights report for more details. Here are a few of the key findings.

Outside of shopping (the most popular activity), visitors to Canada are most likely to have participated in activities that immerse them in the local culture and surroundings.
• The top activities during past travel to Canada included shopping, historic sites, experiencing local cuisine, strolling around to observe buildings and architecture, and visiting natural attractions.
• These top activities (outside of shopping) are also things that were of most of interest to travelers who fit the target EQ segments and thus should be heavily promoted in future marketing campaigns.
• Older Authentic Experiencers and Cultural Explorers were more likely to take in fine dining experiences on vacations to Canada.
• Interestingly, travelers tended to take part in fewer activities and attractions while on vacations in Canada compared to trips within the US.

The top factors affecting destination selection included being a safe place to visit, offers good value for money and a place to spend quality time with friends or family.
While these are fairly “general” travel requirements for any destination, there were a number of characteristics which were of more importance to those who fit the target EQ segments including being a place that provides intellectually stimulating travel experiences, having cities that are great for exploring and soaking in the atmosphere, having a unique culture that I would want to experience on a vacation, and being a place where I can experience things that I can’t experience at home. Atlantic Canada’s ability to deliver on these characteristics should be leveraged in future marketing campaigns.

The January to April time frame is a key period for marketing and communications efforts given this is when the majority of trip researching and booking occurs for New England and Mid-Atlantic travelers.
• The majority of trips taken by New England and Mid-Atlantic travelers occur during the peak season from May to October (with July – September being the prime travel period).
• Trip planning begins up to 5 months prior to the trip while on average travelers start booking their trips 3 to 4 months ahead of time making the January to April time period a very important period for marketing Atlantic Canada.
• Cultural Explorers indicated they take the least amount of time to plan/book their trip which is consistent with their segment profile.

Online sources are key during the trip planning process.
• The top three information sources for New England and Mid-Atlantic travelers included review and booking websites along with destination websites.
• Other sources like travel guide books, AAA, word of mouth and official travel guides are secondary to online sources. New England travelers were more likely to use AAA and word of mouth.
• AAA, travel guides and maps play a bigger role for Older Authentic Experiencers than other segments which is important to note when targeting this group.

Auto and air travel are the key modes of travel for trips to the Atlantic Provinces.
Passenger vehicle was the top mode of travel for both New England and Mid-Atlantic travelers followed closely by air travel. New England travelers were more likely to indicate traveling by car which is expected given the closer proximity to the Atlantic Provinces.

ACAT Secures Valuable Coverage by Hosting U.K. Media Visits

ACAT’s media relations program in the U.K. includes press releases, media outreach, networking events, and media visits to promote Atlantic Canada as a top travel destination. ACAT’s contracted U.K. media relations firm, The Brighter Group conducts activities on behalf of the region, inspiring U.K. media to produce Atlantic Canada content in newspapers, travel and lifestyle magazines, and television.

In 2018, ACAT has secured a number of media trips for the region from outlets such as ITV This Morning, one of Britain’s top morning news programs with more than 800,000 daily viewers; magazines Lonely Planet, National Geographic Kids, and Glass Magazine; newspapers The Mirror, City AM, Scottish Sun, Hello! Online, and Evening Standard Online.

In recent years, the team has also been harnessing the growing power of social influencers specializing in travel blogs and video platforms. Influencers visiting Atlantic Canada in 2018 include Jeremy Jauncey, founder of Beautiful Destinations (presenting on behalf of ITV This Morning), Hand Luggage Only, Heather on Her Travels, and Paperboyo.

Jeremy Jauncey, founder and CEO, @beautifuldestinations.  Image courtesy of @jeremyjauncey.

Jeremy Jauncey, founder and CEO, @beautifuldestinations. Image courtesy of @jeremyjauncey.

The Value of ACAT US Media Visits

Media relations is a key thrust in the Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism’s (ACAT) 2018  marketing campaign, which aims to stimulate travel and grow revenue for the provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island from key US markets. The approach includes the regular distribution of news releases, in-market media events, desk-side media appointments, media outreach, social media amplification and media trips to the region.  Redpoint leads all activities on ACAT’s behalf, building awareness for the authenticity and distinctiveness of an Atlantic Canada vacation and inspiring US media to produce features in print publications, online travel sites and social media platforms.

Media trips to the region are a primary driver of editorial coverage in sought after digital and print publications and social media platforms. At their best, media trips align the interests of destination travel marketers, travel Journalists and travelers.

Gina Dolecki et Rick Stanley de Ocean Quest. Des pétoncles pour le souper pendant l’aventure Taste Beneath The Sea à TNL

Gina Dolecki and Rick Stanley of Ocean Quest. Fresh scallops for dinner during the Taste Beneath The Sea adventure in NL.

Redpoint is well positioned to ensure alignment of all parties as they are firmly entrenched in Atlantic Canada having visited each province in the region a number of times. It is this personal knowledge and understanding which cements the relationship of all stakeholders.

Redpoint has been highly successful in generating key media trips to the region. The provinces have or will be hosting media who write for publications such as Saveur, Afar, the New York Daily News, Food & Wine, Robb Report and the Improper Bostonian.  Coverage in such publications is key to selling our destination to potential visitors.  It offers important and relevant information to our target audience.  Rather than simply promoting our destination ourselves, media coverage provides great value by generating awareness and potential visitors.  Media coverage in such publications adds to reader’s perceptions of our credibility, whereas they may perceive advertising and paid promotions as self serving.

In 2017, ACAT generated more than $750,000 in coverage with a circulation of more than 545 million.  Impressive for a budget of $140,000.

Here are examples of recent coverage for New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Destination Training for UK Travel Agents

The Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism (ACAT) recently participated in Destination Canada’s Canada Specialist Program (CSP) annual UK roadshow. The CSP is an educational program for UK travel trade professionals, which includes online training, opportunities to participate in familiarization tours to Canada, and in-market events. The UK travel trade continues to be a key element in attracting UK visitors to Canada. From the UK market, 24% of visitors to Canada consulted travel agents to plan their trip, 29% booked flights with a travel agent, and 25% booked accommodation with a travel agent. (Source: UK Global Tourism Watch 2016).

The 2018 CSP UK Roadshow took place June 13 in Birmingham, June 14 in Exeter, June 18 in London, and June 19 in Manchester. The events combined a networking reception in which Canada representatives each had a display table, followed by a casual dinner and Canada quiz. CSP independent travel agents and reservations staff from key UK tour operators attended. In total, 270 agents were trained at this year’s events. ACTP UK Program Manager Kelley Keefe represented Atlantic Canada.

Kelley Keefe, ACAT, promotes Atlantic Canada to UK travel agents

Kelley Keefe, ACAT, promotes Atlantic Canada to UK travel agents

CSP Roadshow London 3
Destination representatives included Vancouver, Whistler, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Ottawa, Quebec, Yukon, St. John’s and Atlantic Canada. Suppliers included Air Canada, Air Transat, APT, British Airways, WestJet, Rocky Mountaineer, Sun Peaks, and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.

At the events, the Atlantic Canada mini presentations during the networking sessions were well received. Many guests commented that they were familiar with Western Canada, Ontario and Quebec, but they lacked knowledge of Atlantic Canada. The agents were very engaged and were especially surprised by the short flying time.

ACAT is Proud to be on the Leading Edge of Marketing Strategies and Tactics

Consider how marketing has changed over time. What we deem today to be the most effective and efficient way to reach our customers may be obsolete next year, or sooner. As markets expand and new platforms emerge, the science and practice of marketing is being transformed by the minute.

ACAT is proud to be on the leading edge, using technology such as artificial intelligence and strategies like influencer marketing. We have incorporated these into our tool box to ensure we penetrate and resonate against our target audience in the US.

Work began on a social media influencer program in early March, with influencers in the region in June and July. A social media influencer is a user on social media who has an established credibility in a specific area such as travel, culinary or lifestyle. They have access to a large audience through their social channels and can persuade them to use a product, visit an area or engage in an activity.
Social Influencers Our ACAT program brings a total of eight influencers to the region from the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions of the US. Each province will see two influencers visit. The influencers will spend a number of days in the province, bringing that province to life through their own special style that connects with and inspires their audience.

A minimum of 10 pieces of custom content will be produced for each province. The best performing content will be amplified with paid drivers. This means paid advertising to entice customers to click through to the newly generated content. All content is approved and owned by each province and can be pushed out further through their own social channels.
Picture1To execute the program, ACAT is working with Time + Space Media, our contracted media planning and buying firm and #Paid, an industry leader in influencer programming. Their proprietary technology and expertise allows brands to be effectively matched with influencers whose content and followers will have the greatest impact on the campaign’s objectives.
Stay tuned for a further updates as the program wraps up.

International Tourism Leaders Celebrate Atlantic Canada

May 16, 2018 – Halifax, Nova Scotia – Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism

Over 1,800 tourism professionals from more than 30 countries gathered last night, May 15, at the Cunard Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia to discover what makes Atlantic Canada a compelling destination for travellers world-wide. ‘Atlantic Canada Night,’ organized as part of Rendez-vous Canada 2018, Canada’s signature international tourism marketplace, was a unique opportunity to inspire international travel agents and tour operators to consider Atlantic Canada for their clients’ vacations.

This highly engaging, educational and fun evening was a great success, showcasing the region’s renowned maritime hospitality, world-class entertainment and fresh local food and beverages from each of the four Atlantic Provinces. The event provided the perfect opportunity for Atlantic Canadian delegates to engage, interact and lay the important groundwork for future business collaborations with international buyers.IMG_1127

Atlantic Canada Night was made possible through funding provided by the Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism (ACAT). ACAT is a nine-member, pan-Atlantic, international marketing initiative comprised of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the four tourism industry associations in Atlantic Canada and the provincial departments responsible for tourism in the provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Funding was also provided by Discover Halifax.

Quick Facts

• Atlantic Canada Night was attended by over 1,800 Canadian and international tourism leaders and celebrated Atlantic Canadian culture, culinary fare, and entertainment, promoting travel to the region.
• Atlantic Canada Night was held as part of Rendez-vous Canada, Canada’s signature international tourism marketplace, on May 15 at the Cunard Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
• Rendez-vous Canada is a four-day business-to-business marketplace that connects international travel trade buyers with Canadian tourism industry sellers through a series of one-on-one appointments, motivating travel to Canada.
• Rendez-vous Canada takes place in a different Canadian city each year. This year’s event is hosted by Tourism Nova Scotia from May 13-16 at the Halifax Convention Centre.
• Funding for the ACAT 2017-2020 is $19,950,000 and comes from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency ($9,975,000) the four Atlantic Provinces (a combined total of $6,583,500), and the four Atlantic tourism industry associations (a combined total of $3,391,500).
• ACAT’s mission is to promote the region and strengthen tourism in Atlantic Canada through coordinated government and industry tourism activities.
• ACAT enables for the pooling of resources to create significant tourism synergies. The Agreement allows the four Atlantic Provinces to penetrate markets that are for the most part inaccessible separately and the opportunity to capitalize on emerging opportunities.
• Discover Halifax is a non-profit, membership-based marketing and sales organization that works in partnership with the Halifax regional government, the Hotel Association of Nova Scotia, and participating industry members to promote Halifax as a destination of choice for leisure and business travellers.


“From coast to coast to coast, 2017 brought a record number of 20.8 million international travelers to Canadian communities – the best year ever. We are on track for another exceptional year as we celebrate the Canada-China Year of Tourism. In Atlantic Canada, tourism contributes $5.4 billion each year to GDP, supports 9,800 regional businesses, and employs 62,900 people. Our innovative approach to tourism development under the Atlantic Growth Strategy is ensuring that tourism will create new growth and good middle-class jobs for years to come in the region and across Canada.”

– The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

“We are pleased to welcome thousands of travel professionals to Nova Scotia for Rendez-vous Canada and to give them a truly Atlantic Canadian experience. Events like this one showcase all that Atlantic Canada has to offer, helping us attract more visitors from around the world to our region.”
– The Honourable Geoff MacLellan, Minister of Business, Nova Scotia

“Showcasing Atlantic Canada with this type of event creates incredible opportunities,” said Judy Saunders, Chair of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS). “Sharing our story through authentic music, food and culture with over 1800 international tourism leaders including travel trade buyers positions Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada for significant future tourism growth.”
– Ms. Judy Saunders, Chair of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia

Associated Links

Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Atlantic Growth Strategy
Tourism Nova Scotia
New Brunswick Department of Tourism, Culture, and Heritage
Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation
Prince Edward Island Department of Economic Development and Tourism
Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick
Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador
Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia
Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island
Discover Halifax
Rendez-vous Canada
Canada-China Year of Tourism

Media Contacts

Kevin Mouflier
ACAT Secretariat
Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism
(902) 566-5008

Chris Brooks
Director of Communications
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency PEI & Tourism
(902) 566-7569

Alex Handley
Communications Advisor
Tourism Nova Scotia
P (902) 424-5496
C (902) 717-8735

Darlene Grant Fiander
Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia
(902) 496-7479

Atlantic Canada Joins Forces in a National Program to Grow Tourism

The Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism (ACAT) has been working cooperatively with Destination Canada to grow tourism in Atlantic Canada. In 2018, Atlantic Canada will invest in the Connecting America Program for the third consecutive year. This collaborative marketing venture brings partners from across Canada together to leverage an innovative, multidisciplinary, result-based marketing program focused on the US.

The program’s overall objectives are to build buzz and excitement; improve knowledge of Canada as a travel destination; shift the perception to include warm, fun, exciting and urban; and to create a sense of urgency to visit Canada.

The 2018 program is well underway. In 2017, Atlantic Canada’s investment of $500,000 leverages an additional $481,092 from Destination Canada. The total investment is used to stimulate interest and travel to this region of Canada. The campaign targets individuals age 25-44 from ACAT’s target markets of New York, Boston and Philadelphia who are interested in outdoor adventure, culinary and travel.

In order to best reach these individuals, the 2017 program was delivered through a three-phased approach:

  • To disrupt the marketplace drawing attention to Canada through video, paid social media and paid search;
  • To differentiate Canada from other destinations through the development of relevant content with key publisher partners and then amplify that content with paid content drivers and social post; and
  • To deliver province specific paid digital advertising to the target audience.

Overall, the 2017 Connecting America Program achieved strong results in the US market, achieving or surpassing paid media targets with notable results of 5.8 million content views (including article and video views), 1.2 billion in earned reach and over 2.1 million leads to partners.

For Atlantic Canada specifically, there were more than 8.5 million paid impressions, articles and video views of Atlantic Canada focused content. The overall the click through rate steadily improved throughout the campaign, marked by an overall lift of 150% improvement from launch to campaign end. In addition, the campaign over delivered against the established lead target achieving a 158% of the goal (125,388 vs. 64,816).

Here are samples of content, videos and social media posts created, posted and promoted on Atlantic Canada’s behalf.

GQ How to Experience Canada: Ask a Local

GQ How to Experience Canada: Ask a Local

National Geographic: Newfoundland and Labrador - Where Cosmopolitan Meets Ancient History

National Geographic: Newfoundland and Labrador – Where Cosmopolitan Meets Ancient History

The New York Times, Canada's Maritime Feature

The New York Times, Canada’s Maritime Feature

New York Times - New Brunswick Instagram

New York Times – New Brunswick Instagram

New York Times - Prince Edward Island Instagram

New York Times – Prince Edward Island Instagram

New York Times - Nova Scotia Instagram

New York Times – Nova Scotia Instagram

Connecting America Facebook Post - New Brunswick

Connecting America Facebook Post – New Brunswick

Connecting America Facebook Post - Newfoundland and Labrador

Connecting America Facebook Post – Newfoundland and Labrador

Connecting America Facebook Post - Nova Scotia

Connecting America Facebook Post – Nova Scotia

Connecting America Facebook Post - Prince Edward Island

Connecting America Facebook Post – Prince Edward Island

The Brighter Group Attends UK Media Event on Behalf of ACAT

The Atlantic Canada Agreement on Tourism (ACAT)’s UK program includes a robust media relations plan to generate media interest and coverage of the region in the UK. Based in London, the Brighter Group has been contracted to deliver the program, which includes media events, press releases, press trips, and more. Resulting coverage in travel and lifestyle magazines, national and regional newspapers, digital and social channels builds awareness of Atlantic Canada as a premier travel destination, enticing UK travellers to make the journey.

The Brighter Group’s Emily Olsen and April Cernuschi attended TravMedia’s annual International Media Marketplace in Westminster, London on behalf of ACAT. TravMedia’s International Media Marketplace is the world’s leading event connecting journalists with the global travel and tourism industry. The ACAT table was situated adjacent to the Destination Canada table and several other Canadian Provinces and Destination Marketing Organizations. The format consisted of 15-minute meeting slots whereby media could meet with their chosen exhibitors. Brighter Group secured 28 appointments with consumer, trade and blogging media such as Express Newspapers, Travel Bulletin, Family Traveller, Rough Guides, Along Dusty Roads and Culture Trip to name a few.

TravMedia International Media Marketplace Appointments

TravMedia International Media Marketplace Appointments

Networking at TravMedia's International Media Marketplace

Networking at TravMedia’s International Media Marketplace

The TravMedia International Media Marketplace provided Brighter Group representatives an opportunity to meet one-on-one with UK media, present 2018 story ideas for general coverage, and generate interest in press trips for the upcoming year. Feedback from media appointments was quite positive and progress is being made to secure press trips and coverage in 2018.