Stay-cations increasing in popularity

Transcontinental Staff
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PICTOU – For many people vacations are for experiencing new things and learning about places you visit, while finding time to relax.

Dayle Crouse, director of the Hector Exhibit Centre and Archives and McCulloch House Museum in Pictou, said people from this province or region could get the same result from stay-cationing.

"The nice thing about locals coming to a place like this is they learn about their culture and in turn are able to tell others about it when visitors come," said Crouse. "While visitors from away can share their stories with friends, not everyone they tell can come here, but when school children visit they go home and tell their parents and they come back as a family."

The stay-cation term has become increasingly popular in recent years and is defined as anyone that travels 40-kilometres or more from home and stays one night.

The director said stay-cationers play a huge role in their operations budget, accounting for about 50 per cent of all visitors.

About 3,000 people visit the site on an annual basis learning about the region's culture and heritage, along with participating in programs both during the summer months and the off-season.

"Without those people our visitation numbers would be cut in half," she said.

Melanie MacKay, research assistant and tourism guide at Pictou's Northumberland Fisheries Museum, said local traffic accounts for more than 30 per cent of their visitor traffic.

She said the benefits of stay-cationer visits are two-fold.

"It solidifies that people are interested in where they come from and they don't feel that they have to go away to enjoy their vacation," said MacKay, adding another benefit is it helps local heritage and culture sites raise much needed funding.

Devin Trefry, interim marketing director for the Three Shores Destination-Marketing Association, said in 2009 about 55 per cent of visitors to Nova Scotia originated from Atlantic Provinces.

"Staycation is a term that's become popular in recent years as the tourism industry responds and adapts to effects of recession and economic challenges that has reduced the number of visitors from the US and other distant markets," said Trefry. "The theory being: if they aren't coming from away, let's encourage people who are here to travel and spend in the area."

He said stay-cationing has become a popular concept for consumers as well with many spin off benefits.

It supports the local economy, people save time and money by traveling shorter distances, increases awareness of what is available in the region, allows people to make shorter trips more often and gives people the ability to be more flexible with planning.

"Stay-cationers do not usually spend as much as visitors from away because their visits are typically shorter and many stay with friends and family, however they remain a significant and valuable part of sustaining our local tourism industry -especially when weathering challenging economic times," said Trefry.

Organizations: Hector Exhibit Centre and Archives and McCulloch House Museum, Northumberland Fisheries Museum

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Atlantic Provinces, US

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