The gathering of international finance ministers in Halifax beginning Friday will be a much more modest, low-key and shorter affair than the splashy 1995 meeting of world leaders.
That means there won’t be nearly the exposure for Nova Scotia as a tourism destination, as happened for three days in June 1995 when former U.S. president Bill Clinton and Russian president Boris Yeltsin arrived in the city.
This year’s G-7 event begins with a working dinner Friday and an all-day meeting Saturday, after which the ministers will hold a media briefing. Then they’ll likely take the earliest flight home.
Ottawa is predicting about 500 people will descend on Halifax for the event: 100 delegates and finance ministers, federal finance officials and 265 journalists from around the world. By comparison, in 1995 there were more than 1,500 journalists assigned to the story.
The meeting will be all business, with no time for social events or photo-ops on the Halifax waterfront, said Jean-Michel Catta, a spokesman with the federal Finance Department.
Although Bluenose II will be in town, it likely won’t get its 15 seconds of fame like it did at the 1995 summit.
Still, Judith Cabrita of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, thinks the G-7 meeting will put the province back on the map.
“It puts us on the radar screen. It puts us back up there on the world stage; it creates awareness of Nova Scotia as a destination of choice,” she said.
“The television coverage that will be going into homes all over the world makes people say, ‘Gee, I’d like to go there.’”
Cabrita said people will likely see glimpses of Halifax in the background during the TV coverage of the event, and some networks may do short stories on the city and the province.
“So, it’s almost an immeasurable effect. Five years from now, someone will be walking down on the waterfront or going around the Cabot Trail and say, ‘We came because we saw Nova Scotia when they had the G-7,’” she said.
“We’ll probably see a big influx in inquiries on the Web sites. Now people can go from their living room to their computer and immediately call up a Web site that will entice them even further.”
Bill Harrison, president of the Hotel Association of Nova Scotia, said the weekend of the G-7 meeting will be “an active time” for all hotels in the Halifax Regional Municipality.
“I know that everybody is going to benefit enormously,” he said. “June is a busy month, typically. When you put 500 rooms into a month, that’s fairly busy to begin with. It helps out immensely in topping up our occupancy. So, it’s a blessing.”
While there is really no time to show off Halifax to the finance ministers, Mayor Peter Kelly said the city will put “our best face forward to showcase Halifax to the world.”
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