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Possible return in 2021 not ruled out
The Harbour Hopper has decided to hop over Sydney harbour for the 2020 season.
Ambassatours Gray Line, the company that operates the Harbour Hopper experience, confirmed the large blue, green and yellow amphibious vehicle tour won’t return to Cape Breton this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of the cruise ship season.
“Mostly, what we do in Cape Breton is cruise-related,” said Terri McCulloch, spokesperson for the company. “We certainly felt welcomed in Cape Breton.”
This marks the second-straight year the Harbour Hopper won’t be seen in downtown Sydney. Despite a busy autumn cruise ship season last year, the company decided not to offer the service.
In an interview with the Cape Breton Post in October, Dennis Campbell, president and chief executive officer of the Halifax-based company, said the operation of the Harbour Hopper was a “trial to try to give us a feel if it would work in the short or long term,” noting the company “may have been a bit premature in the market place.”
Although it may seem like the Harbour Hoppers time in Cape Breton is over, McCulloch didn’t rule out the possibility of a return to Sydney next year.
“I wouldn’t rule anything out, I mean, we don’t know how long it’s going to be before tourism fully recovers (from COVID-19) so I wouldn’t be able to say when,” said McCulloch.
“It’s a changing landscape as far as tourism goes, so we’ll take a look towards 2021 and we’ll be looking at the whole picture in terms of what we’re expecting with cruise passengers.”
HARBOUR HOPPER TIMELINE:
- February 2017: Ambassatours Gray Line applies to Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board for approval to have the amphibious tours in Sydney for a two-month period (September and October)
- August 2017: Ambassatours Gray Line confirms the Harbour Hopper would arrive in Sydney for the cruise ship season
- September 2017 and Sept. 2018: Harbour Hopper runs operations in Sydney
- October 2019: The Harbour Hopper is absent in Cape Breton with no guarantee it would return to the island in the future
- July 2020: Harbour Hopper confirmed not coming to Cape Breton for 2020 due to COVID-19 and the cancellation of the cruise ship season
Harbour Hoppers are popular with tourists and locals in Halifax.
The amphibious adventure showcases the city by land and sea, taking people to places of interest such as Citadel Hill National Historic Site, the Victorian Public Gardens, and St. Paul’s Church, to name a few.
The tour continues through the downtown core of Halifax before making a splash into Halifax harbour. The cruise continues in the water, passing George’s Island lighthouse, the Halifax waterfront boardwalk, historic properties as well as the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.
The tour is fully narrated with topics such as the Halifax Explosion as well as the history of the naval dockyards in Halifax.
Amphibious tours will be offered in Halifax this summer. The company began the season on Wednesday and is expected to run through the Labour Day weekend in September.
“We have a bit more public who go on the Harbour Hopper because it’s a larger market,” said McCulloch of the decision to operate in Halifax. “We’ve reduced the number of Harbour Hopper departures and shortened the season as well because of the cruise industry.”
In total, 18 seasonal employees for various positions are affected by the Harbour Hoppers absence in Sydney. McCulloch didn’t say whether those employees were offered jobs in Halifax for the season.
McCulloch also confirmed 200 seasonal employment has been affected company-wide in the Maritimes because of cruise ship cancellations.