From 'too much hype' to 'earthly paradise': tourists react to Nova Scotia


Bad weather. High prices. Poor roads. And … not enough sand on the beaches?

These are some of the gripes tourists had about Canada's Ocean Playground this year.

Local residents can probably empathize with some of the feedback, like the difficulty finding parking in downtown Halifax, accessibility issues and the desire for ride-hailing companies.

But other comments provided to the provincial Tourism Department are downright head-scratchers.

"I was disappointed with the Cabot Trail," one visitor noted. "I believed that I would see more natural beauty than I did."

"More loose moose," was one tourist's suggestion.

"Airbnb not in someone's garage," said another.

Tourism Nova Scotia collects feedback from visitors through an online exit survey, at visitor information centres, through social media and sites such as Trip Advisor and Expedia.

Through freedom-of-information laws, the CBC received all the responses to one question on the online survey: If you could identify one thing that would have improved your visit experience while in Nova Scotia, what would it be?

About one-third of the nearly 3,500 tourists who filled out the survey did not answer this question, but of those who did, many said that nothing could have improved their trip because it was already "perfect."

An analysis by Tourism Nova Scotia of the 2017 exit survey found the most common responses to the question were a wish for better weather, more time to spend in the province and better road conditions.

Highways and roads figured prominently in the complaints from this year's visitors, with tourists grumbling about potholes, poor signage, tolls and the lack of rest stops. A handful of visitors mentioned damage to their vehicles caused by road conditions, and one person complained about all the "useless wrong way signs."

Tourists lamented the cost of nearly everything, including accommodations, taxis, gas, parking, car rentals, alcohol and taxes.

Food was also a common topic, with some complaining they couldn't find any lobster — or, if they did, they suffered the travesty of being served margarine instead of butter.

One respondent said they were "honestly disappointed" there weren't fish and chip shops on every corner and another protested the lack of ketchup in a restaurant. "Fries are not the same without ketchup," groused the respondent.

Bathrooms generated a number of comments, including the need for more public washrooms and the cleanliness of the province's loos: "Bathrooms in restaurants. They never get enough attention," wrote one visitor, while another simply stated: "Fans in the bathrooms."

While many praised the province's tourist attractions, such as Peggys Cove, some detractors said the popular destination had "too much hype," was too crowded and needed better parking. One innovative thinker suggested a ferry between Peggys Cove and Lunenburg.