$265K spent to entertain travel writers in Cape Breton in June

Various levels of government spent $112,000 to wine, dine and escort Canadian travel media around Cape Breton in June but one of the organizers says it was well worth the cost.

The total tab of the Travel Media Association of Canada conference was $265,000.

The province, through Tourism Nova Scotia and the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage kicked in $47,000. 

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality provided $25,000 each while Inverness, Richmond and Victoria counties gave $5,000 each. 

The Destination Cape Breton Association, the island's marketing agency, was one of the organizers and hosts and contributed money raised through its marketing levy on hotel rooms.

CEO Mary Tulle says accommodation and tourism operators also picked up many costs themselves by offering their services in kind.

Sampled the best of the island

The travel media dined at the Fortress of Louisbourg and learned to cook lobster at the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. They also played golf at courses around the island and cruised the Bras d'Or Lakes.

Tulle says paying the travel media's expenses is no guarantee that the resulting coverage will be positive but she believes the cost of the conference will prove its worth in publicity.

"We're seeing articles come in, certainly on a daily basis," she said. "And we have stacks, at this point, of print, and even CNN that did the piece almost two weeks ago. That's a 6.3 million circulation on that article that was done by one of the travel writers — 6.3 million." 

A CBC News search for coverage following the event found many of the writers had posted short stories on their own blogs and web sites.

Tulle says articles have been written in the Toronto Sun, the Calgary Herald and the British newspaper the Guardian following the visit.

She says that coverage can bring in future tourists.

"If that individual [writer] has a reach of 10,000 people or 40,000 people, then the penetration is something we wouldn't have been able to get even two or three years ago," Tulle said. "So it becomes really a piece of the pie, and I feel pretty comfortable that whatever they are going to produce has some positive result."