Organizers of the Tall Ships Nova Scotia 2009 festival are expecting a direct economic impact of around $40 million on the provincial economy.

 

“Those are pretty big numbers,” said Waterfront Development Corporation president Colin MacLean.

 

The last time the tall ships visited was in 2007 and the figure was $27.5 million. This time around, it’s a bigger event, says MacLean. At last count, 40 ships from 13 different countries were coming.

 

Organizers are expecting up to 80,000 out-of-region visitors to attend.

“It’s pretty remarkable when you think about it,” says MacLean. “How many people are coming to town? What would they do while they’re here? Hopefully, they’re going to stay over a few nights.”

Part of what makes our tall ships so special is that the visit is not just confined to one city, says MacLean.

“This tall ships event is the only one of the whole international race series this year that is a provincial event. Everybody else just goes to a city.”

The other Nova Scotia stops are Lunenburg, Port Hawkesbury, Louisbourg, Sydney, Pictou and Pugwash.

“That’s additional economic impact beyond Halifax just itself,” he says.

Economist Tom McGuire is in charge of determining the economic impact evaluation. He says random people will be surveyed on the waterfronts and asked questions such as where they’re from, what motivated them to come and how much they are spending in Nova Scotia.

“Once we have all that information, we’ll be able to tell what the economic impact of what the visitors spent is in relation to the tall ships,” says McGuire.

McGuire says 1,000 people will be interviewed in Halifax and another 400 at the other ports. Looking at “new money” will be the focus. That’s money that’s coming from outside the region.

“We’re focused on the non-Nova Scotia spending,” says McGuire. “We’re focused on the visitor, not the folks on their lunch hour going down to see the tall ships from the business towers in downtown Halifax, or conversely, the businesses in Sydney going down to see the tall ships. We’re focused on tourists that come to Nova Scotia because of tall ships either in whole or in part.”

McGuire says the findings should be ready by the end of September, and perhaps as early as August.