Bringing the Tourism Industry Together

At the end of last week, I represented the Nova Scotia Bed & Breakfast Association (NSBBA) at the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS) annual general meeting (AGM). Each year the AGM is held at different locations around the province, and last year it was held in Truro. In fact, five of the B&B’s in Truro – including Belgravia – made breakfast for the 120 participants. 🙂  This year, the AGM was held at White Point Beach Resort in Liverpool, Nova Scotia.

In November of 2011, the main lodge at White Point was destroyed by fire. The owners decided to rebuild, using as many local trades, crafts people, and supplies as possible. They consulted with their long-time guests regarding design, and let the world watch the rebuild through Nova Scotia webcams. The result is spectacular! They did an excellent job of maintaining the “feel” of the old lodge, yet were able to improve on many things. And with a setting like this, how can you go wrong?

View from the front porch of the cabin.

View from the front porch of the cabin.

We met for two days of meetings and socialization, trying to determine as an industry how we can improve our product for our guests. We are working on issues such as lobbying the government for an “open skies” agreement which would make airline access more plentiful, easier to access, and most importantly –  more affordable! Another important issue we’re working on is to have a ferry link between New England and Nova Scotia restored – the sooner the better! We also are continuously working towards improved signage and roads. What makes meetings like the TIANS AGM critical, is that we have all sectors of the tourism industry from B&B’s to large hotels to festival and event coordinators to tour operators to restaurant owners to winery owners, to the Regional Tourism Industry Associations, all working together with government. The new Minister of the Nova Scotia Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, Graham Steele, was present and was listening. Pat Sullivan, CEO of the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency was doing the same. There is a real feeling of camaraderie as we all work together.

It wasn’t all work though – we shared some wonderful meals together courtesy of White Point. After dinner, we roasted s’mores (Graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate melted together) over the fire in the main lodge. Since the rain held off, there was also a bonfire outside on the beach after dark.

As part of the business meeting, we said welcome to three new board members: Sheri MacKillop, Dean of the School of Business at NSCC, Carl Sparkes, owner of Jost and Gaspereau Wineries, and Andrew Alkenback, general Manager of Cabot Links Resort. Unfortunately, this also meant we had to say goodbye to board members who are finished their terms. Last year, when our terms were finished, Danny Morton of White Point and I were made “Tourism Senators” (that title seemed much more illustrious at this time last year!) and were each given an article of clothing made from Dress Nova Scotia tartan. This year, Danny & I were able to do the same for our three retiring board members: Earlene Busch, Chanterelle Country Inn, Grant MacDonald, Events Nova Scotia, and Tom Ruth, Halifax International Airport Authority.

Wearing our "Tourism Senate" attire.

Wearing our “Tourism Senate” attire.

It’s always refreshing and enriching to get together with members of the Nova Scotia tourism industry as a whole, and I was especially excited to get to experience the new and improved White Point. I am looking forward to going back with the family soon on our own Nova Scotia travel adventure!

17th Annual Recognition of Excellence Certification Dinner (Photos)

I joined the Board of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS) four years ago. Each year, my favorite event to attend has been the Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council’s (NSTHRC) Annual Recognition of Excellence Certification Dinner. This year was extra special, as I received National Certification as a Tourism Trainer.

One of the reasons I love this evening so much is because many of the front-line tourism ambassadors in the province are able to attend. This year, 195 individuals were recognized for achieving certification in the following occupations: Food & Beverage Manager, Front Desk Agent, Guest Service Attendant, Heritage Interpreter, Housekeeping Room Attendant, Reservation Sales Agent, Sales Manager, Supervisor, Taxicab Limousine Driver, Tourism Visitor Information Counselor, and Tourism Trainer.

A few fun facts:

  • Nova Scotia has more Nationally Certified Tourism Professionals than any other province in the Canada
  • Nova Scotia has over 1,000 Nationally Certified Taxicab Limousine Driver
  • Nova Scotia is the only province which invests to ensure 100% of their Tourism Visitor Information Counselors in the provincial Visitor Information Centres are nationally certified!
  • Twelve Nova Scotian employers were recognized this year as having over 60% staff with national certifications!

To receive my certification, I was required to have completed a certain number of hours training people to be tourism professionals. These were attained through my Tourism Management Faculty position at the Nova Scotia Community College during the past two years. Then, in late March I had a classroom evaluation. This involved Lisa, manager of the NSTHRC,  actually coming into my classroom and observing me “in action” while I taught a class.  I then wrote a two hour exam, and completed a case study.

The dinner was held this year at Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax. Since Halifax is only a one hour drive from the Belgravia, D’Arcy & I hopped in the car after school and made our way there. There was a reception for the first hour, where we mingled with other recipients and tourism professionals, and then we were treated to a wonderful dinner. Yum! The food and service at Casino Nova Scotia were fantastic! The menu was as follows:

Appetizer – Spinach Salad – baby spinach served with mandarin orange segments, topped with toasted almonds and dressed with ponzu vinaigrette.

Entree – Stuffed Chicken with goat cheese and sun-dried tomato and a peach coulis – served with Chef’s Potatoes and Vegetable

Dessert – Peach Cobbler – baked in brown sugar and ginger

Wine – Jost Vineyards Seyval Blanc & Prima Rosa

There was a musical performance to signal the beginning of the evening with photos of Nova Scotia flashing in the background. No matter how many times I watch a presentation like that, I get chills! There were speeches before the dinner by the Glenn Squires, chair of the NSTHRC, and the Hon. Percy Paris, Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism. Bhreagh MacDonald, Cabot Links Resort (receiving certification as a Tourism Supervisor), spoke of what receiving certification means to her. Garrett Gloade, from the Glooscap Heritage Centre (receiving his certification as a Heritage Interpreter) performed a blessing.

After dinner, the certifications were handed out by Minister Paris, Wendy Swedlove of the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council, and Glenn Squires. There was much cheering and clapping! I was the last of the individuals to receive my certification, as I was the only person receiving Tourism Trainer recognition this year. Lisa (NSTHRC) gave me a touching introduction. It was a fabulous evening and I was extremely proud to be part of it.

The following are some photos that D’Arcy was able to take for me. There was a professional photographer there as well, so hopefully I will receive some of those at some point too.

With Garrett Gloade, Certified Heritage Interpreter

A little bit embarrassed by all the nice things Lisa was saying about me as I was called up to receive my certification.

Joking with the Minister as the presentation was made.

Hon. Percy Paris, Anne McDonah, Wendy Swedlove, Glenn Squires

Joyce Mingo, receiving Property Recognition on behalf of the Glooscap Heritage Centre.

With my generous MLA, Lenore Zann, who came to support both Garrett & myself. She brought me a certificate of congratulations – thank you Lenore!

With Danny Bartlett, Chair of TIANS

With my biggest supporter!

Dannty Bartlett, Chair of TIANS, Anne McDonah, Belgravia Bed & Breakfast, Darlene Grant Fiander, President of TIANS/NSTHRC

With Lisa Dahr, Manager NSTHRC

Some of the TIANS/NSTHRC team – Lisa Dahr, Kieu Lam, Anne McDonah, Lyndsay Leedham, Darlene Grant Fiander. How lucky the Tourism Industry is to have these women among its champions!!

I cannot thank the TIANS/NSTHRC team enough for their support and encouragement through this process! I look forward to using my certification to encourage and support the amazing people who work the front lines of the Tourism Industry, impressing our visitors and building our beloved Nova Scotia brand.

What’s so special…about Nova Scotia

(The following article, written by Darlene Grant-Fiander, was originally published in the May 2012 issue of the Nova Scotia Business Journal)

Last month, international media converged on Halifax to share in the anniversary of the Titanic disaster. With the media broadcasting from some of the significant landmarks related to the Titanic story, the long-term impact of this coverage cannot be understated.

As the Discovery and History Channels released new documentaries exploring the human connection to Nova Scotia, renewed interest in our story will be felt for years to come.

Nova Scotia is one of the most significant places in North America –– our link to many tragedies and world events has created a lure and attraction for people seeking out authentic places with a story to tell. This is not about exploiting tragedy; it is a story about our connection to these life-altering events and the human spirit that has come to define who we are in Nova Scotia.

Places rich with culture and history are high on the radar for people seeking authentic and experience-based destinations. Nova Scotia has assets that no other place can duplicate and if we package this with high-quality product and service once they get here, we will be well on our way to greater economic success for the province.

Currently one of the largest visitor segments for Nova Scotia is the visiting friends and relatives (VFR) market. In an effort to encourage more economic activity from people already planning a visit, a new initiative is being launched as part of the 2012 marketing plan. The VFR Campaign is meant to encourage Nova Scotians to continue to invite friends and relatives but more importantly, get out with them to explore and experience the province. Industry incentives will be available for host families to encourage travel within Nova Scotia.

The spirit of this campaign ties in well with the goals of Tourism Awareness Week beginning May 14. It is all about educating Nova Scotians on the economic, social and cultural impact that a strong tourism sector has for the province. Tourism’s role in rural Nova Scotia is particularly important. With appropriate investment and support it can play an even greater role in rural revitalization.

Everyone should take the time this year to explore a region of this province. I guarantee you will discover something you did not know and enhance your own appreciation for this incredible place we call home.

Darlene Grant Fiander is the president of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia and executive director of the Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council. Darlene has worked in the tourism industry for over 25 years. You can reach Darlene at

Video from 2010 TIANS Awards Gala

I recently received the link to this video in my inbox.  It’s a clip of the TIANS Gala when Dick Lemon won the TIANS Award for Tourism Innovator of the Year.  When you watch this video and listen to Dick’s acceptance speech, I think you’ll understand why we felt compelled to nominate him!  (By the way, registration for the 2010 Not-Since-Moses will soon open.  Check back for information on our Bed, Breakfast & Run package!)

TIANS Recognizes Tourism Excellence

Last evening, the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS) hosted the 2009 Crystal Tourism Awards of Excellence Gala Dinner. The event culminated the three-day Tourism Summit – The Evolution of Tourism.

TIANS Chair, Danny Morton, White Point Beach Resort

Nine Crystal Tourism Awards of Excellence were presented to individuals and organizations that have excelled in their particular category. This year’s winners are:

Mr. Mike Broomfield – Alastair and Frances Campbell Award
The Wharf Rat Rally – Ambassador Award
Mr. Scott MacAulay – Tourism Champion Award
Gaspereau Vineyards – Parks Canada Sustainable Tourism Award
Ms. Judy Saunders – Tourism Sector Person of the Year Award
Mr. Dick Lemon – Tourism Innovator Award (We nominated him!!)
Driftwood Park Retreat – Sustainable Tourism Award
Mr. Paul Hanna – Human Resource Leadership Award
Ye Olde Argyler Lodge – Tourism Atlantic Technology Award

Also presented were the 2009 Pineapple Awards – a celebration of our Pride in Service and the individuals who go above and beyond to enrich visitor experiences. Recognition of individuals who exemplify extraordinary service in Nova Scotia’s Tourism Industry is very important as they create the memories that visitors take home.

Throughout the year, visitors to Nova Scotia complete the Pineapple Awards ballots located in hundreds of establishments throughout the province. The winners this year are:

Ms. Courtney Beck – Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia
Belliveau Motors – Church Point, Nova Scotia
Mr. Seamus Ryan – Halifax, Nova Scotia

I especially loved Seamus’ story; he was nominated by his employer, Scanway Catering, after he saved the day at a wedding reception. The bride & groom – being married at a remote location in Cape Breton, far away from Scanway’s operation in Halifax – had decided on make-your-own strawberry shortcake rather than a traditional wedding cake, but when the catering staff opened the bucket of what they thought were the strawberries, they found strawberry preserves instead. Seamus set off to buy strawberries, but all the stores were sold out! Finally, he came upon a u-pick and started offering money to people to buy their strawberries. When he realized he still didn’t have enough, he rolled up his sleeves and started picking berries himself! He made it back to the wedding with less than an hour to spare and the bride & groom were none the wiser! Seamus summed it all up when he said in his acceptance speech, “Nova Scotians know hospitality because we practice it in our own homes.”

Those are the kind of stories I love to hear and his thank you speech was eloquent & gracious.

We were delighted and honored to be asked to sit with Dick Lemon, our friends, Judy & Gerry Roberts and the gang from the Five Islands area. We nominated Dick because we are so impressed with all he has done to revitalize and support that section of the Bay of Fundy. The “Not-Since-Moses” Run is his creation and since registration has doubled each year, they are expecting big things for registration again this year. We enjoyed being there this summer, and D’Arcy said he thinks we should be sure to register this year. I think we might just do that. Congratulations Dick!

Congratulations Dick - we were honoured to be sitting with you!

The evening was inspirational and motivating.

(I’m looking forward to next year already!!)

D’Arcy & Anne, arriving at the Gala

With Jennifer, TIANS Membership Coordinator

TIANS Board Members: Danny Bartlett, Bay Ferries; Anne McDonah, Belgravia Bed & Breakfast; Angela Chisholm, Scott Walking Adventures; Harry Delong, Parks Canada

The Celtic Tenors provided the Entertainment - they were magnificent!

Scott MacAulay wore his kilt as he accepted his award

Welcome to The Belgravia B&B!


Please stop in often to find out what is new at the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast, in downtown Truro, the Central Nova Scotia Area, and around the Province of Nova Scotia! Please click here to find out all about us or here to read guest comments and reviews.

Photo credit: Portraits by Johanna