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Monday, April 28, 2008

Nova Scotia... advertising for tourists

In March, 2008 I drafted this blog... since we have been focused on other personal issues, I didn't get back to it, so I am going to post it, and make some insertions that reflect on the original issue....

A few days ago I received a copy of a letter to the editor of the Halifax Chronicle Herald from an Oyster Ponder, Ron Smith. Ron was lamenting the fact that in his winter digs around Ontario he sees advertising for New Brunswick and PEI, but none for Nova Scotia. He also says that he sees ads for Nova Scotia when he is in Nova Scotia... but not elsewhere.


From our outpost here in Florida this winter, we also have not seen advertising for Nova Scotia... in either the local papers or TV and while we skower the New York Times we don't see Bluenoser ads there, either. BTW, and especially for the uninitiated, Bluenoser is the traditional name given to people from Nova Scotia and is derived from the name of a champion racing schooner that is now depicted on the reverse of the Canadian Dime.


What we do see however is a lot of angst about the economy and fuel prices... we are now at $3.70 per US gallon, and looking at $4.00 for the trip back north in a couple of weeks. It took us $300 to get south during the winter in the trusty Volvo... it will cost us all of $195 in the new Prius which starts the payback. My point is however, that everyone doesn't drive a Prius, and it will be hard to expect Americans to travel North and East with $4.00 gas, and the Loonie at par with the Buck.


This then leans back to Ron's letter in that there are folks in Ontario and Quebec... not to mention the west... that might consider coming East... all the way to Nova Scotia... if they saw ads that made them feel welcome. The NB and PEI ads are good enough that those Canadians coming east might see it as reasonable to stop there and not come to NS.


There is a chance that the management folks at tourism might be thinking that their ad money will go further in Europe where the Euro has jumped to incredible heights against the Loonie and the Buck. But according to the New York Times, the Europeans are flocking to NY City and parts of the USA that are advertising aggressively in Europe. There may be a few that want to come to Nova Scotia... but don't bet on it... they have been waiting for years to get a good exchange rate on the Buck, and this is their year.


SO where does that leave us... we need a comprehensive review of the tourism industry, and a new attitude about what we will be offering tourists when they come to our province. We need foggy and rainy day programs; we need beaches with life-guards and change houses with real toilets and canteens; we need access to the water with all types of boats, kayaks, and other means to see our beauty from the water; we need clearly marked and conditioned hiking trails and so on.


Tourism is a misnomer in the 21st Century. People don't just tour anymore... today, they want experiences. There is access to beautiful places all over the world. From Patigonia to the Great Barrier Reef to Iceland... people can get to the beauty. They want to do things when they get there... and we need to tell people what they can do here, if we want them to come.

I wrote the foregoing in a draft, and never launched it... I have been away from the blog as we have been dealing with Mother's illness... so I want to reflect a little with what I was saying...

Well, here we are going into August... we did get the $4.00 US Gallon this summer... and here in Nova Scotia we have been as high as $1.42 per liter... for the folks in the USA, that is $5.24 per US Gallon. I heard from my friend Bart Segers in Antwerp, Belgium that he is paying over $12.00 per US Gallon. So where will this take us...

The tourism business, real tourists, is in big trouble here in the east, and if business travel wasn't holding things in shape here in Halifax... I have to wonder. The Cabot Trail is empty of cars!

I understand that the Canadian Federal Government is publishing a finding on tourism in Canada. Of course it will be positive... the west is hot, and the far north is growing. Ontario and Quebec are holding their own... but the east... we are toast. Even Air Canada is holding it's nose as it cuts the flight attendant base from Halifax. Our Minister of Tourism is Bill Dooks... an Eastern Shore home builder who knows nothing about tourism and his boss used to be the Minister of Tourism... Rodney McDonald still doesn't get it either... we need to be able to give the touring public something exciting to do here... or they will not come... certainly not with the costs of getting and touring here.

Just a thought.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Toyota Prius

Well, we took the plunge... we bought a hybrid car!

Several months ago I wrote here that there are many ways we can reduce the impact of increasing fuel prices... drive slower; keep the air pressure in the tires at the recommended levels; consolidate trips and travel less; turn the car off instead of idling any time we are stopped more than a minute; accelerating slower; decelerating slower; and so on. By doing a combination of these, Lynnda and I reduced our fuel costs from the mid-$600s to the mid-$300s in the first month, and maintained that level, with no apparent hardship.

We started having some problems with our ten year old Volvo, so we started looking around for a replacement. We had an opportunity to rent a Toyota Prius on a trip to Florida late last fall while we were here looking for a winter place. We averaged about 48 miles per 3.82 liters... that's a US gallon. While it was a small car, and had no bells and whistles, we were very impressed with its performance. There was lots of room for our luggage, and at one time we had five people comfortably ensconced for over an hour each way to a destination.

So, when the Volvo decided it had had enough... after ten years, a car has a mind of it's own... we replaced it with a loaded up Prius. It is actually getting around 50 MPG around the city, and 45 on the highway... I need to slow down... I am usually on cruise control at about 70MPH on the interstates and Florida Turnpike. The car has everything including a rear-vision camera for backing up; GPS; incredible sound and so on... it drives quietly, so quietly that at times you wonder if it is running. (I know, I know... highway is supposed to have better mileage than city driving. That is just one of the things that is different when you switch to a hybrid like the Prius. It uses it's electric engine a lot around the city but the fuel engine starts and works at higher speeds, using more gas)

Toyota makes other hybrids now, including the Camry and a Lexus model. They all use 87 octane fuel which yesterday was selling for $3.60 per US gallon. That is about $0.94 per liter. We are getting around 450 miles to a comfortable fill point per tank and we have been told to expect better mileage as we break in the car.

Ok, there is another way we can reduce our dependence on oil.

Reflections

Late in February I began working for my Blueknowser Consulting business. Effectively I stopped writing on this blog spot, although I did not stop thinking about it, or the issues that confound life in Nova Scotia. I feel today like a bubble about to burst with pent up ideas that I want to share... but probably I should clean up some other business.

First, I became very cynical about many things at home... Nova Scotia that is! As a result, I needed to step back and think about the blessings there, and see if there is a better way to communicate on the things that might be made even better. I needed a new perspective.

Also, I had taken to announcing that I had a new posting out, and then looking at my counter to see how I was doing. What kind of an ego maniac had I become that I would measure such metrics... I decided it doesn't matter that people are reading the posts. The posts are there, that is enough, I think. If folks think they have value, they will check them out, link to them, forward them and come back next week... and so on. I need not 'announce', and hence-forth I won't. I also hope to do better research that will make the postings a better reflection of what is possible.

Those provisos aside, I have also continued to focus much of my time on Blueknowser Consulting. I am actively helping (I hope my work is looked on as helpful) a very large company here in the USA... and occasionally I get to support Nova Scotia businesses that are trying to get started. As a sideline to those efforts, today I started posting on a blog for Blueknowser Consulting located at http://www.bruce-ross.blogspot.com You can link there by clicking on the 'link'.

I will continue to try and make better sense of the Nova Scotia and in some cases, do something about things I see as incongruent with fairness to those involved... especially our youth on the eastern shores.

Blueknowser

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Grad. Saint Mary's University, 1975, got into the medical device business initially in sales, then various management positions up to president, all in Medical Devices. I prefer therapy products over diagnostic, but they are all fun, and in a way have defined my life. I have now evolved, with help from my 35 year partner Lynnda with whom I now share every hour. I am into staying healthy, photography, kayaking, bicycling, gardening and two books a week. I wish I had gotten to this stage earlier!