Tapping into the Bay of Fundy: MPs set target of doubling tourism

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Eight Maritime MPs are plotting ways to double tourism numbers in the Bay of Fundy and they hope local residents can help.

Bill Casey, the MP for Cumberland-Colchester, said members of Parliament from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia who can all "dip their toes into the bay" have formed a Bay of Fundy caucus.

In the next five years, the Liberal MPs want to boost tourism numbers and bring more attention to its many sights, Casey said Monday in an interview with Information Morning Moncton.

Wonder of nature

The Seven Wonders website puts the Bay of Fundy second on a list of North America's seven natural wonders, just after the Grand Canyon.

The bay has a lot of untapped potential, Casey said.

Along with the highest tides in the world, the bay offers tourists a chance to visit some of the oldest communities in Canada, discover Hopewell Rocks and UNESCO world heritage sites and look at unique fossil finds, he said.

"It just goes on and on, whale watching in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and wineries," the Nova Scotia MP said. "We don't take advantage of it as much as we could."

Casey said the Fundy caucus's goal of raising the tourism potential has already attracted interest from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and from about 50 businesses in the area, including some that also want to help out financially.

The project is in its preliminary stages, but the group plans to launch a feedback-gathering mission among Bay of Fundy communities to identify the region's hot spots. After that, the caucus will start work on a plan to attract more tourists, said Casey,

"We are going to start there and hopefully go right around the bay and inventory everything," he said, adding he hopes anyone who has ideas or wants to help will contact him.

Provincial collaboration

The Fundy project also offers an opportunity for New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to collaborate more on tourism initiatives, he said.

Last week, the federal government announced it wanted to expand its focus on tourism, he said. 

And the Nova Scotia government recently released a report saying "tourism will be a foundation of the economy of rural Nova Scotia," Casey said. "And that goes for New Brunswick as well. 

"Everybody seems interested in this, everybody is on site, everybody recognizes we have a tremendous asset there."

Trails show promise

He added that New Brunswick continues to be interested in expanding the East Coast Greenway, a 4,800-kilometre traffic-free trail system that links traffic-free trails along the eastern seaboard from the Canadian border to Canada and Key West, Fla.

Casey also sees potential in the Fundy Trail, which the New Brunswick government wants to extend along the coast of New Brunswick.

"Why not bring it all the way around the coast of Nova Scotia, all the way around the Bay of Fundy," he said.

"It's an amazing area of concentrated attractions, which should bring people in if they know about them."