The coastal area between Musquodoboit Harbour and Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia was identified as a suitable candidate community for the ACOA Strategic Tourism Expansion Program. STEP is an innovative, comprehensive process that guides communities through a series of well-tested strategic ‘steps’ aimed at creating a sustainable strategic tourism plan that incorporates products, services and experiences.
The Strategic Tourism Expansion Program (STEP), offered by Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) – Tourism Atlantic provides communities (and entrepreneurs) with an understanding of destination development, industry trends, and experiential tourism development. It engages community leaders and other stakeholders in the design and execution of actionable, sustainable tourism development plans.
Destination Eastern and Northumberland Shores (DEANS) is a not-for-profit destination marketing organization with 16 Directors representing the Northumberland and Eastern Shore regions of Nova Scotia. DEANS represents the tourism industry in Antigonish, Guysborough, and Pictou Counties, and Eastern HRM. Through the coordination of DEANS, and the funding support of ACOA, seventeen local businesses and organizations, and two municipal units, the STEP program was initiated. It has been introduced to assist stakeholder communities in becoming a sustainable tourism destination by exposing local entrepreneurs and influencers to varied techniques and formulas required for sustainability. The STEP process has focused the community at large as well as the municipality, business owners, and organizations on strategic planning, building tourism capacity and experiential product development.
The WITAP (Wild Islands Tourism Advancement Partnership) region features hundreds of coastal islands that have been largely undisturbed for more than 10,000 years. This archipelago offers pristine white sand beaches, sheltered coves, dramatic windswept headlands and unique boreal forests, bogs and barrens, as well as a rich diversity of seabirds, songbirds and shorebirds. This grouping of uninhabited islands and associated headlands has been identified as the last remaining intact and ecologically-rich island group of its size in North America, and is being protected through a combination of provincial legislation and private land conservation efforts.”
These coastal conservation lands include:
- Eastern Shore Islands Wilderness Area (Wilderness Areas Protection Act – Nova Scotia
- Eastern Shore Islands Wildlife Management Area (Wildlife Act – NS Department of Natural Resources);
- Clam Harbour, Owls Head, Taylor Head and Liscomb Point provincial parks (Provincial Parks Act – NS Department of Natural Resources);
- And a collection of private islands protected by the Nova Scotia Nature Trust through their highly successful 100 Wild Islands campaign.
The coastal conservation lands are complimented by a variety of inland conservation properties north of Highway 7 that provide access to interior lakes and rivers with outdoor recreational and nature tourism potential.The region already offers a number of iconic natural, outdoor, cultural and historic assets and experiences, including: surfing and swimming at Martinique Beach, swimming at Clam Harbour Beach Provincial Park; beachcombing and birding at Martinique Beach Provincial Park (the longest sandy beach in Nova Scotia); the coastal trail systems of Taylor Head Provincial Park; cycling along the Musquodoboit Harbour Trailway; hiking at Gibraltar Rock; paddling on the Musquodoboit River; hiking the Liscombe River Trail; venturing the suspension bridge overlooking a waterfall at Liscombe Lodge Resort; endless opportunities for independent or guided coastal kayaking; charter scenic boat touring; Nova Scotia’s largest living history museum, the 1800s-themed Sherbrooke Village; the Fisherman’s Life Museum; a 1940’s restored village at Memory Lane Heritage Village; MacPhee House Museum, the Atlantic Salmon at the St. Mary’s River Salmon Museum and more.