Ingonish STEPping up regional tourism

News release

Side by side scenic photos of outdoor vistas in Cape Breton

Government support encourages stakeholder cooperation to increase visitor attractions

September 28, 2023 · Ingonish, Nova Scotia · Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)

Today, Jaime Battiste, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Member of Parliament for Sydney-Victoria, announced a $95,500 non-repayable ACOA contribution to the Ingonish Development Society (IDS) to develop a regional tourism strategy.

The announcement was made on behalf of the Honourable Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development and Minister responsible for ACOA.

This investment will help the society increase Ingonish’s tourism potential under ACOA’s Strategic Tourism Expansion Program (STEP). Regional stakeholders will work with consultants to identify ways to improve hosting abilities, increase experiential tourism offerings, and extend the tourism season, giving travellers even more reasons to stay and explore this must-see destination.

This announcement further demonstrates the Government of Canada’s commitment to help communities seize new and exciting tourism opportunities that create jobs and support long-term economic growth in rural areas throughout Atlantic Canada.


“Cape Bretoners know how to make you feel welcome. With their new tourism strategy, Ingonish will be able to attract even more visitors, and extend their tourism season, which means more jobs and a stronger local economy.”
- The Honourable Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development and Minister responsible for ACOA

“Cape Breton has no shortage of astounding tourism experiences to attract and charm visitors from all over the world. Growing and improving attractions in Ingonish will help to keep the Island high on travellers’ must-see list and contribute to the strength and vibrancy of the regional economy.”
Jaime Battiste, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous – Crown Relations and Member of Parliament for Sydney–Victoria

“The Ingonish Development Society (IDS) is very excited to have been approved for the STEP program. STEP is going to give us the road map needed to help grow Ingonish. Using community feedback, all levels of government guidance and a dedicated group of volunteers I think we can grow in a sustainable way and make Ingonish a place we all want to work, live and play.” 
- Ryan Costelo, Chairperson, Ingonish Development Society STEP Committee

Quick facts

  • The Ingonish Development Society (IDS) is led by a group of forward-thinking business owners working to establish the infrastructure and resources that constitute "the Ingonish Experience". 

  • Ingonish is a four-season destination located at the northeastern tip of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, on the world-famous Cabot Trail. It is home to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Highlands Links, Destination Cape Smokey, the Keltic Lodge, fresh seafood, beautiful beaches, amazing trails, a rich cultural history, and so much more.

  • Tourism Atlantic's (ACOA) Strategic Tourism Expansion Program (STEP) is an innovative and comprehensive process that closes experiential tourism capacity gaps that exist within Atlantic Canadian communities. Through analysis and visioning, STEP provides the tools necessary to grow dynamic travel destinations.

  • The implementation of STEP consists of a seven-step process carried over a period of 12 months. The initiative begins with initial regional research and a site visit, followed by visioning, benchmarking, and idea generation sessions. Regional consultations will be carried out within the community followed by a draft plan and capacity building workshop session. The consultant is expected to deliver a draft of the plan to the IDS in October. 

  • The consultant will work in alignment with regional and provincial priorities and will leverage the available reports and traveler insights from Victoria County, Destination Cape Breton and Tourism Nova Scotia while creating the Strategic Tourism Expansion Plan.

  • The funding announced today is provided through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s (ACOA) Innovative Communities Fund.


Kevin Lemkay
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Rural Economic Development
and of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Lauren Sinclair
Communications Director
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Ryan Costelo
Chair, STEP Committee
Ingonish Development Society
(902) 209-8025

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