08/30/2013 09:52 EDT | Updated 10/30/2013 05:12 EDT

Nova Scotia tourism dips slightly compared to same period in 2012

HALIFAX - The number of visitors to Nova Scotia dropped slightly during the first seven months of this year compared with the same period of time in 2012.

But the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency says the number of visitors to the province in July rose by one per cent compared to the same month last year, which the agency's CEO describes as a positive sign during a peak period for tourism.

Patrick Sullivan says the results so far this year are mixed as the agency tries to reverse a significant decline in tourism over the last 10 years.

In the first seven months of 2013, 968,800 people visited the province, down two per cent from the same period in 2012.

Sullivan says the 2013 marketing campaign is focused on Ontario and Quebec and visitors from those markets were up in June.

The agency says more than 50 per cent of the total number of annual visitors to the province arrive between June and September.

"We are focused on bringing more first-time visitors and creating a solid foundation for real growth over the long term," Sullivan said in a news release.

People who drive to Nova Scotia make up 68 per cent of the annual total number of visits to the province.

The number of people who flew into Nova Scotia is down five per cent to date this year, which the agency blames on a reduction in domestic and U.S. flight capacity to the province.

The number of people arriving by cruise ship is up significantly in the first half of the year, however. Visits to Halifax were up 24 per cent to the end of June, and visits to Sydney were up 149 per cent to the end of July.

The government says the province's tourism industry directly employed more than 24,000 people and generated revenues of more than $2 billion in 2010.