'A real bright light': Maritimes sees a boost in tourism activity

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Tourism is picking up momentum in the Maritimes, which is welcome news for struggling operators.

While the recent rain did keep some away, this weekend's sunshine brought a ray of light to the industry in need of help.

As artists on the shores of Peggy's Cove bring the iconic destination to life, some features have been missing from the picture – people, a lot of them.

"Yesterday and today there's been a lot of people coming down," says artist Alexandra Merkx Jacques.

The owner of the Sou'Wester restaurant overlooking Peggy's Cove lighthouse says this has been the busiest weekend yet.

A promising sign after three waves of COVID-19 has kept revenue down.

"Business is not good, still isn't good, but the weather hasn't been very good either," says owner John Campbell.

The Olsons are here from Calgary to visit grandparents in New Brunswick.

"In Calgary there's not a lot of water, so it's nice to see the water," says tourist Riley Olson.

Mike Kopstein is here exploring his home province.

"It's nice that they finally opened it up. It's a good idea to have everybody have their vaccines before coming," he says.

Halifax harbour is also lively.

Dennis Campbell operates several tours and some are selling out. A boost in bookings means a boost to the bottom line.

"You know what this weekend was, a real bright light. We didn't anticipate it too because of the weather," says Dennis Campbell, CEO of Ambassatours Gray Line.

"The trend is continuing upward in a really nice way. Like I said, it's very welcome. It's been a long time coming."

But hope for a successful summer still hinges on factors out of our control, including weather.

Operators also say Ottawa needs to continue its wage subsidy past September.

"It's going to be the difference for businesses being able to make it through this winter. I don't have to make it through this summer I have to make it through to next spring," says John Campbell.

Both businesses usually rely on cruise ships, which aren't coming this year.

They're banned in Canada until at least this coming February and there are calls for the country to send a clear signal on whether cruises will be welcome back next year.