SYDNEY, N.S. — A Nova Scotia island being touted as a haven for Americans unhappy with the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency has seen more than a threefold increase in traffic to its tourism website this year, translating into around 3,500 bookings.
Cape Breton hotels and B&Bs sold 30 per cent more overnight stays in rooms this April compared to the same month last year, according to Nova Scotia tourism.
Mary Tulle, CEO of Destination Cape Breton, says since the so-called "Trump Bump,'' the tourism association needs at least two full-time staff members just to keep up with online and phone inquiries.
"I think what we've really tried to do is seize the privilege we've been given,'' Tulle said in an interview. "It really was quite a unique tumbleweed of activity.''
The front page of "Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins." (Photo: cbifdonaldtrumpwins.com)
Cape Breton was thrust into the spotlight in February when local radio host Rob Calibres set up a website pitching the region as a charming, Trump-free paradise that embraced visitors from the other side of the border rather than putting up walls, a reference to Trump's proposal to put a wall on the border with Mexico.
The "Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins'' site went viral and set off an international media frenzy, including a video report aired by cable news giant CNN.
Tulle says the unprecedented interest in Cape Breton has attracted around 1.5 million page views on the website, about a third of the clicks from curious Americans. The tourism association even launched a companion site with information on how Americans who wouldn't want to stay in the U.S. if Trump became president can move to Canada and start a new life in Cape Breton.
Obama family welcome to visit
Last month, Tulle sent President Barack Obama a hand-written invitation to Cape Breton as thanks after he gave the island a shout-out during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's White House state dinner in March.
Along with the letter, Tulle sent locally made handbags for Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia. She included a gift for the president as well — a golf shirt from Cabot Cliffs links near Iverness.
"On behalf of the people of Cape Breton Island, please know we would welcome you to come and visit our Island and play on our world-class golf courses anytime!'' Tulle wrote in the card, which was delivered to Obama during his stay in Ottawa for the Three Amigos Summit.
Tulle says anyone is welcome to tee off at one of Cape Breton's lush 18-hole courses, including Trump.
"Of course, Trump owns brilliant golf courses as well,'' Tulle says. "In my life right now, everything is possible.''