YARMOUTH - Tourism operators in the region need to improve their online presence. That’s just one of the key findings in a five-year tourism destination management plan for Yarmouth and Acadian Shores Tourism Association (YASTA) prepared by Brain Trust, a marketing group from Ontario.
A review of tourism operators’ websites revealed that most operators do have one, although that includes only 62 per cent of restaurants.
Few sites show images of guests in a business setting, fewer use video and many don’t have a call-to-action.
For example, only 61 per cent of roofed accommodators and 25 per cent of RV/campgrounds accept online bookings.
YASTA is now working with the plan, which provided 18 key findings and actions to address them.
Neil MacKenzie, YASTA’s executive director, says they have formed a working committee to ensure recommendations in the plan are carried out.
“We will be addressing the short-term recommendations first,” he said.
“At this point I am still ensuring our partners are aware of our plans.”
YASTA has already started to improve “industry equipping” and has held industry sessions and familiarization tours during Tourism Week.
It has also started a LinkedIn page for tourism operators to learn more about what’s happening in this region and to celebrate successes.
“We have also already started trying to implement other recommendations as well,” MacKenzie said.
Other recommendations in the plan include encouraging operators to leverage the power of TripAdvisor (the #1 travel information resource worldwide).
The report says just 78 per cent of accommodators, 45 per cent of cultural attractions, 46 per cent of restaurants (non-chain/fast food), and 22 per cent of natural assets are on TripAdvisor.
Additionally, most operators do not respond to guest comments/reviews, a necessity if a business is to be viewed positively by those looking at reviews, according to TripAdvisor.
The promotion of Living Wharves, Savour the Sea, Tusket Islands Tour, Argyler Lobster Supper experiences on Airbnb’s new experience platform as soon as possible was also recommended.
Recommendations also included putting the Best of YAS awards on hiatus in 2018, taking proactive steps to bring the Municipality of the District of Clare back into YASTA as a formal funding partner and addressing multiple changes required at the Yarmouth ferry terminal.
Visitors to the area
Tourism attraction operators, within Yarmouth & Acadian Shores, provided anecdotal visitation figures for 2017. Deep Sky Observatory saw almost 1,000 visitors, Tusket Island Tours did 50 tours with approximately 800 guests – 80 per cent were locals/visiting friends and relatives, and Le Village Historique Acadien de la Nouvelle Ecosse had 19,000 visitors – 8,000 from N.S., 8,000 from other provinces, 1,300 US, and 508 international guests.