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) in 2014. The Musquodoboit Harbour-Sherbrooke 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
- Eastern Shore Islands Wildlife Management Area
- Clam Harbour, Owls Head, Taylor Head and Liscombe Point provincial parks
- and a collection of private islands protected by the Nova Scotia Nature Trust through their highly successful 100 Wild Islands campaign.
Through the coordination of DEANS, and the funding support of ACOA, seventeen local businesses and organizations, and two municipal units, STEP was initiated in early 2015. 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 STEP working group consulted with community members, which has led to the development of four strategic priorities. These priorities will guide the community toward the following vision:
Musquodoboit Harbour-Sherbrooke is internationally recognized as a sustainable one-of-a-kind Canadian coastal nature-based destination offering outstanding touring, outdoor, cultural and culinary experiences.
The Four Strategic Priorities
- Capitalize on the Nature-based Opportunity – Define and build the destination area based on its unique selling proposition (USP) and positioning that focuses on the wild islands and outstanding nature-based tourism opportunities.
- Build Success Through Engagement – Engage community members, key influencers, and partners to broaden support for developing the area as a world-class tourism destination.
- Advance Experiential Tourism Development – Enhance and generate tourism products and experiences that align with the USP, brand positioning of the region, and the Nova Scotia brand.
- Enrich Quality of Life – Enrich the quality of life for residents of the destination area.
Twenty-two outcomes have been identified, with each outcome linked to one of the four strategic priorities. The Working Group will continue working to achieve these outcomes in the next phase of this tourism initiative.
The Working Group recognized that a set of guiding principles would help ensure alignment of decisions, and therefore used community input to develop eight guiding principles, which will be applied to all future actions and decisions.
The Eight Guiding Principles
- Community Driven – build success through a community-driven and focused approach, taking advantage of professional expertise and creative partnerships
- Responsible – ensure that development does not compromise the natural or cultural integrity of the conservation lands, surrounding region, and communities
- Sustainable – focus on initiatives that support long-term benefits and are self-sustaining
- Research based – use tourism market research to drive product development and marketing
- Experiential Focus – develop tourism opportunities using the travel demand generator model & focus on experiential product development
- Build on success – apply existing tourism product development tools (e.g. Tourism NS, Destination Canada, ACOA, etc.), and leverage best practices from other jurisdictions to accelerate product development
- Inclusive tourism development – ensure the approach and destination achieves a balance between tangible (physical infrastructure) and intangible (e.g. learning opportunities, hands-on experiences, etc.) tourism development
- Clear communication – ensure that process documentation and communications are simple, clear, and widely available
The overall management of the Musquodoboit Harbour to Sherbrooke STEP project was undertaken through the efforts of the STEP Working Group with Destination Eastern and Northumberland Shores (DEANS) leading as the project manager. DEANS has received approval from their board to continue managing this project and the Working Group has agreed to support this arrangement. The representatives who comprised of the STEP Working Group need not remain the same moving forward. New representatives will be sought through a community engagement process to serve alongside those members of the first group who wish to continue on an active and participatory basis. As the project manager, DEANS will ensure that the Working Group representatives continue to accurately represent the community and consist of a variety of individuals, businesses and organizations.
The STEP process ends on April 7th, 2016 with the Funder’s Presentation, whereby this report and its findings are presented to ACOA, local funders and the public. However, this tourism initiative is still in its early stages. Along with the community’s input and support, the working group will continue to position and advance Musquodoboit Harbour to Sherbrooke as a dynamic new in-demand destination offering the best-designed touring, outdoor and nature infrastructure and experiences in Nova Scotia.
- 2.1 Introduction
- 2.2 Map of the STEP Project Area
- 2.3 Musquodoboit Harbour-Sherbrooke STEP Project Goal and Opportunity
- 2.4 Tools of Tourism Product/Experiential Development
- 2.5 Understanding the travel customer
- 3.1 The 2015-16 STEP Initiative
- 3.2 Moving the STEP Initiative Forward
- 4.1 The Four Strategic Priorities
- 4.2 Strategic Priorities and Outcomes
- 5.1 Appendix A – The Musquodoboit Harbour-Sherbrooke STEP Working Group
- 5.2 Appendix B – SWOT Analysis
- 5.3 Appendix C – Tourism Nova Scotia Visitor Statistics
- 5.4 Appendix D – Timeline of STEP Working Group Activities
- 5.5 Appendix E – Community Consultation #1 Inputs
- 5.6 Appendix F – Wild Atlantic Way Positioning/Brand Best Practice
- 5.7 Appendix G – The Tourism Nova Scotia Toolbox
- 5.8 Appendix H – Brand Creative Brief
- 5.9 Appendix I – Reference Documents Reviewed