The 17th of October represents a significant watershed in the practice of tourism in Canada. We believe that the decriminalization of the use of cannabis will have a fundamental impact on tourism and tourist activities. Despite these declarations, we suspect that most organizations and businesses in the tourism sector in Nova Scotia are either still trying to wrestle with the implications of the legalization of recreational cannabis, or have yet to recognize the significant potential for disruption to provincial tourism patterns.
As we saw when the Province of Quebec rejected the prohibition of alcohol in 1919 – whilst the United States implemented bans on alcoholic beverages – alcohol became a factor that significantly impacted cross-border tourist behaviour. Likewise, for those who seek cannabis experiences, Amsterdam has become a world-renowned tourist destination. More recently, the States of Colorado, Washington, and California have seen not only dramatic increases in tax revenue from the sale of cannabis, but also shifts in their tourist patterns.
The evidence is now clear: we can expect changes to tourism in the wake of legalization. We anticipate two types of consumer-driven change in the tourism sector: 1) adaptation of existing services to accommodate cannabis use; and 2) new offerings (services and experiences) centred on cannabis. While we don’t know exactly what will unfold for tourism in the province, we do know it will result from the interaction of visitor appetites and innovative entrepreneurial thinking in the tourist sector.
Thus, we are beginning to study the potential for impacts on:
- Designer tourism experiences (such as weed and wine pairings)
- Accommodation providers (from hotels to Airbnb)
- Urban versus rural tourism (where there may be fewer restrictions on places to smoke)
- Beverage (Wine, beer, cider and spirits) tourism and the issue of substitute or complement
- Cruise visitor demand
- International weekend getaways
Finally, we wonder how the Legislators view the potential(s) for change to the Province’s tourism landscape and what path they will choose to follow.