Scenario planning with MacEachen Institute 

Discover Halifax is working hard to be prepared for a variety of scenarios that the tourism industry may face in the coming year. Recently, they completed a scenario planning project in conjunction with MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance at Dalhousie University, sponsored by the Change Lab Action Research Initiative (CLARI).

A number of stakeholders connected to Halifax’s tourism sector contributed to the discussion. As a result, MacEachen Institute released a report seeking to identify the most likely variables to impact the 2021 season. The report concludes that the two most likely determinants were our capacity to host including the level of restrictions in place and to what degree market confidence visitors would have for travel. These two variables led to the following four possible named scenarios:

1.   Happy Days represents the return to supply and demand that we were enjoying prior to the pandemic. The Halifax region had enjoyed seven consecutive years of growth prior to COVID-19, so these really were happy days for all of us.
2.   Suspicious minds mean Halifax would have the capacity to host tourists, but people are still too uneasy to travel.
3.  Ghost Town refers to a situation similar to April and June of this year when many places were closed, and most people stayed home.
4.   All dressed up, nowhere to go describes a situation in which people are ready to travel again, but rules, regulations and processes make it difficult for them to do so.

While we are uncertain which of the four scenarios are more likely to occur, this work helps us develop strategies and planning which can adjust as the situation evolves.