The Nova Scotia-Maine Ferry: Supporting Our Rural Economy

Why is the 2019 sailing season delayed?

The ferry service is moving from Portland to Bar Harbor this year. The process to get the new permanent ferry terminal built in Bar Harbor was impacted by the government shutdown in the US and new standards introduced in 2018 for the ferry facility to be fully compliant, which impacted our ability to move the project forward as quickly as we would have liked. We continue to work closely with US Customs and Border Protection to construct the new facility in Bar Harbor and obtain the approvals needed.

Why did the ferry service move to Bar Harbor?

Because it would have cost taxpayers an additional $7-8 million (USD) for terminal upgrades in Portland that were necessary for the 2019 season. Additionally, the City of Portland would not allow the ferry service to remain in Portland for future years. Investing that additional sum of money for one year of service was not in the best interest of Nova Scotians. Therefore, the decision was made to move the service to Bar Harbor.

Will the ferry sail in 2019?

The Government is doing everything it can to resolve the issues with US Customs and Border Protection and they remain focused on getting the service restarted this tourism season. The Minister of Transportation and the Minister of Business and Trade are continuing dialogue with US Customs and Border Protection and elected officials in the US. Marine-side work in Bar Harbor is complete and government is working diligently to get a compliant facility plan with US Customs and Border Protection.

Why doesn’t government cancel the ferry altogether?

A ferry service continuously operated between Nova Scotia and Maine since 1956, before the NDP government of the day cancelled it in 2009. When that happened, businesses closed, jobs were lost and people had to move away. The impact was felt not only in southwest Nova Scotia, but across the province. We won’t let that happen again. Our government is committed to this ferry for the long term. When we have a strong rural economy, the entire province benefits. That’s why we will continue to work to resolve the issues to the satisfaction of US Customs and Border Protection so the ferry can continue to benefit the economy long into the future.

What impact does the ferry have?

Since our government brought back the ferry in 2013, tourism has experienced significant growth. Ridership continues to increase, with over 50,000 passengers in the 2018 season.

Room nights sold in the June-September timeframe have increased by 54% when comparing 2018 to the pre-ferry year of 2013. This is an increase of more than 12,000 room nights.

According to Tourism Nova Scotia’s 2017 Exit Survey, visitors who arrive by the NS-Maine ferry are more likely to spend more and stay longer than non-ferry visitors. It also shows those who come to Nova Scotia via the ferry travel throughout the province: 89% visit Yarmouth; 74% visit the South Shore; 64% visit the Bay of Fundy; 60% visit Halifax; 30% visit Cape Breton; 23% visit Northumberland; and 8% visit the Eastern Shore.

There is no doubt about it – the Nova Scotia-Maine ferry supports economic development in the southwest region of our province and beyond – just ask local business owners.


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