POLITICS

Nova Scotia tourism says service cuts will save over $1 million a year

02/27/2015 11:47 EST | Updated 04/29/2015 05:59 EDT
HALIFAX - Two visitor information centres will close and seven provincial parks will switch to self-service as part of a cost-cutting program review by the Nova Scotia government.

The Tourism Department said Friday that the service cuts would save more than $1 million a year by 2016.

As a result, 58 seasonal staff will be laid off, 38 at the parks and 20 at the visitor information centres.

The Tourism Department said the visitor information centres in Pictou and Digby are closing because they are near other locally run centres and are not cost-effective.

It said the locations accounted for just six per cent of all visitors to the centres, but 17 per cent of overall costs.

The closures reduces the number of provincially run tourist centres to six said Patrick Sullivan, CEO of the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency.

Visits to tourist information centres dropped by almost 40 per cent over the last decade as people use online information to plan trips, Sullivan said.

Eighty-five per cent of people use smart phones while travelling and there are 112 million electronic tablets in the United States market alone, he added.

"People are ... utilizing those devices to get the advice and input from sites like TripAdvisor or even from our NovaScotia.com," said Sullivan.

As for what the emergence of technology will mean for the future of the remaining information centres, Sullivan would only say the review process is ongoing.

"We have no changes planned at the other visitor information centres, but I can't say what the future will hold," said Sullivan. "We will see how technology evolves and what people's travel habits are and we'll make decisions at that time."

The government said the changes at provincial parks would see tourists use pay stations.

The parks becoming self service include, Laurie and Porters Lake in the Halifax area, Islands in Shelburne County, Smileys in Windsor, Boylston in Guysborough County, Salsman in Country Harbour and Whycocomagh in Cape Breton.