Destination Cape Breton Will Be With You Shortly

This was supposed to be a story in which Destination Cape Breton Association (DCBA) responded to a number of criticisms leveled at it by a number of people (three people, actually, the number is three).

I’ve been working on this for a couple of weeks and on Monday, I sent a list of questions to DCBA CEO Mary Tulle.

Here is the (email) response I received:

Tourism promotion, hikers on Cape Breton's Cabot Trail

Photo via


I will be out of the office on business from August 18 – August 25 with no access to email. I will respond back at my earliest convenience.

Kind regards


I contacted another DCBA staff member who told me that only Tulle could deal with my questions.

All of which prompted more questions like, where in the world is Mary Tulle? Seeing she is without email access, I first thought she must be in deep in the Transylvanian forest, or high atop Kilimanjaro, but then I realized she could just as easily be in Nova Scotia (where “Progress Continues on Bringing High-Speed Internet to More Rural Communities.”)

Also, “I will respond back at my earliest convenience,” is an interesting locution. Most out-of-office messages, in my experience (and, having launched a news publication in August, my experience is quite vast) say something like, “I will get back to you as soon as possible, if the matter is urgent, please contact”

But clearly, these too are questions for Tulle and must await her earliest convenience.

The point of all this is, my actual DCBA story will run next week.



In the meantime, I will set the stage by telling you something about Destination Cape Breton. Or rather, I will let Tulle tell you something about DCBA, drawing on a pair of interviews she gave in July 2016 to DestinationTHINK! (whose “About” section says, “Leading innovation. Redefining destination marketing”). Here she is explaining what Destination Cape Breton does:

We have spent the past six years asking one question: ‘Why are they coming?’ Knowing ‘why’ leads you to be able to define ‘who.’ ‘Who,’ for DCBA, was defined by a visitor that fits within a common geographic, demographic and psychographic. We have lived by this continuum of research that will drive product development that in turn, will drive our marketing.

I don’t understand any of that but I will live by my continuum of research that has driven me to another quote from the interviews. Here is Tulle discussing the organizational structure (or lack thereof) of DCBA:

We don’t really have a normal organizational structure. I believe that everyone should work within their key strengths, allowing their ‘cream’ to rise to the top, and leaving the ‘skim milk’ for someone else. We have as many contracted staff as we do as full time employees. This absolutely gives us the flexibility to hone in to do whatever is required to accomplish something immediately.

Dairy product analogies always confuse me, but this sounds like staff are encouraged to do the things they are best at and leave the rest for…who exactly? The “contracted staff?” As for Tulle’s own place in this dairy-based operational structure, she describes it this way:

…I am outside the operations of DCBA more than ever before. I spend far more time today being involved with high-level strategic discussions, with hard infrastructure development for Cape Breton being the key topic of conversation. I feel that Cape Breton has evolved from being in the tourism industry to being a true tourism destination. With this evolution comes a new level of involvement with investors and all levels of government.

a) That explains why she was unable to answer my email; b) I think participation in these “high-level strategic discussions” may have gone to her head:

As a region of a province, we are supposed to fall within the provincial tourism strategy. While this may support a portion of what we do, we more often than not put forth our efforts as if we were our own province and sometimes even our own country.

Which explains that, “Cape Breton: The Country You Never Knew Existed” campaign.

Before you accuse me of picking on Destination Cape Breton, let me just point out that it receives most of its funding from government (provincial and municipal) with the odd dash of federal and is therefore ripe for public scrutiny. Which is why I asked my questions.

Tune in next week when I’ll share the questions and, with any luck, the answers…



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