Legislation to Help Modernize and Grow Tourism Sector


Nova Scotia is modernizing its tourist accommodations legislation and taking steps to support tourism growth across the province.

Government introduced legislation today, March 7, that will repeal the outdated Tourist Accommodations Act and replace it with a new registration act. Short-term accommodations providers, except those who rent in their primary residence, will be required to register through a simple online system.

Changes will take effect a year from now, allowing time for further consultation with municipalities and industry in the months ahead.

    “It’s time to update our legislation to reflect today’s travellers and find innovative ways to attract more visitors,” said Minister of Business Geoff MacLellan. “These changes will reduce red tape for existing operators and make it easier for more Nova Scotians to participate in our thriving tourism sector.”

The current act includes prescriptive rules for licensed tourist accommodations, including having at least eight coat hangers and governing the size of a floor mat, a mirror and the wattage of light bulbs.

Government is also proposing amendments to the Assessment Act to ensure small-scale operators will pay a residential property tax rate, rather than a commercial rate. Municipal Affairs will engage its municipal partners to develop regulations which will define a small-scale tourist accommodation establishment, including the maximum number of rooms.

“I am confident these changes will provide greater clarity on the definition of short-term rentals, for taxation purposes, while helping to support tourism growth in Nova Scotia,” said Minister of Municipal Affairs Chuck Porter.”

Nova Scotia has a goal to grow the tourism sector to $4 billion in annual revenues by 2024, up from about $2.7 billion in 2017. An independent study found that the province will require between 5,500 and 7,000 additional units to achieve that goal.

    “The growth of short-term rentals is great news for rural communities like ours,” said Larry Peach, tourism manager with the Municipality of Clare. “Without our vibrant short-term rental accommodations, it would be a lot more challenging to host signature events like the Gran Fondo or bid for international events like le Congrès mondial acadien in 2024.”

“We all want unique, exceptional experiences when we travel,” said Dennis Campbell, CEO of Halifax’s Ambassatours Gray Line, one of the largest combined land and water tour companies in Canada. “By embracing the modern approach to travel, Nova Scotia is even better positioned to grow the tourism sector.”

The changes will not impact any municipal by-laws or zoning on short-term rental accommodations.