From its formation the NSIFP has believed that the business case for the renewal of the service must be based on sound economic research and informed assessment by respected non-partisan market analysts.
That’s why one of the first things we did was to ask Gardner Pinfold Consultants Inc. of Halifax to assess the market potential, business case and associated economic benefits of a Yarmouth to USA ferry service.
GP Consultants is one of the most respected tourism market analysis firms in North America, and for decades has provided industry data for regional, national and international clients in this field.
Their findings indicate that a business case can be made for a Yarmouth to New England service under the following conditions:
- The service is tourism-focused
- The service is seasonal
- The service deploys a cruise-type ferry
- The service is effectively marketed
- The service benefits from the US economy growing as projected
A key element in arriving at the above conclusions is GP’s opinion that previous traffic projections used to assess the service were based on a worst-case scenario and an under-appreciation of the influence of the service offering on the dramatic drop in traffic on that route. The decline in traffic through Yarmouth was greater than through other points of entry to the province.
In terms of economic impact Gardner Pinfold reported that the termination of the service had a dramatic impact on the hospitality sector not only in the southwestern part of the province but throughout the whole province.
Its restoration, the report found, would have clearly defined benefits suggesting:
- That a revived ferry service will reverse the negative economic impact the region has suffered
- That the positive impact will be felt throughout the region as soon as the service begins
- That the revived Yarmouth to US ferry service will generate $16.3M in tourism spending
- That the impact of the ferry service extends beyond Yarmouth to the whole province
- That the service contributes to provincial and municipal tax revenues
- That the 2010 drop in US tourism can be directly linked to the ferry service
Essential to the Gardner Pinfold study was the finding that the right ferry will re-build traffic, maintaining that the collapse in ferry traffic was not due just to the economic climate, but also to the ferry itself; noting that the drop in traffic on the ferry was much steeper than the general decline in U.S. tourism to Atlantic Canada and Nova Scotia. A service featuring a cruise-ferry offering facilities and amenities comparable to those found on cruise ships would provide an attraction in itself, as well as a more comfortable transportation mode to Nova Scotia. Part of the reason for optimism that a cruise ferry would re-build traffic lies in the growth in cruise travel from the U.S. to Canada over the past decade.
As the economy recovers, an effective marketing campaign combined with creative tour packaging could see a recovery of U.S.-NS traffic of 120,000 passengers in the first year of a renewed Yarmouth-Maine cruise ferry service. To put this into perspective, it represents just 35% of the ferry traffic through Yarmouth as recently as 2002.
To be successful the GP Study concluded that a Yarmouth-Maine ferry should:
- Respond to the needs of the tourism industry
- Be safe and reliable
- Have a convenient schedule and suitable frequency
- Be comfortable with modern amenities
- Be competitively priced and affordable
- Provide a transportation option for commercial interests including the fishing industry
- Be commercially viable
In brief, the GP Study clearly supports the contention that, properly structured and conducted, a seasonal international ferry operation between Nova Scotia and the United states would be a financially viable operation that would contribute millions of dollars to the provincial economy.
Download full details of the Gardner Pinfold Report
Other studies include: