Businesses say its a slow path to recovery reaching pre-pandemic levels

When the Nova Scotia border opened to vaccinated visitors, business owners prepared for an influx of tourists.

While some shops are busier, others, like hotels aren’t seeing a significant change.

"Normally we’d be running close to 90 per cent (occupancy) right now," says hotel general manager David Clark. "In a normal year, so we still have a little ways to go."

Instead, Clark's hotel is only about 40 per cent full.

While it's better than before, there's still a long way to go to reach pre-COVID-19 occupancy levels.

Clark is hopeful business will pick up as the summer progresses.

"There’s an awful lot of demand out of Ontario, which is fantastic," Clark says.

Susan Downey-Lim runs a wine tour business where most of her shuttles go to the Annapolis Valley.

She says weekend trips are filling up, weekdays, however, are slow.

"We're definitely below where we would’ve been in 2019," Downey-Lim says.

In addition to reservations, she is also keeping an eye on gas prices. The price of fuel in Nova Scotia is expected to go up again at midnight.

"It’s a little bit scary with the gas prices, it’s a big part of our business of course. So our fingers are crossed, hoping that it doesn’t go too much higher," says Downey-Lim.

Petroleum analyst Dan McTeague warns that might be wishful thinking.

"I wouldn’t be surprised to see prices on average across Atlantic Canada move up by about eight cents a litre. The rest of the country, probably by five or six cents a litre between now and 1st of August,” says McTeague.

Dennis Campbell operates a number of tours in Halifax. He says he thinks the pent-up demand for travel will not be affected by gas prices. Campbell says business this summer is picking up, but he's more excited about 2022.

"Certainly our cruise ship bookings for next year are really strong, we are pleasantly surprised to see that they are actually back at almost 2019 levels," says Campbell.

That’s good news for an industry that has lost millions since the pandemic began.