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The Starlight Foundation, headquartered at the Canaries Astrophysics Institute in Spain, has awarded  Starlight Reserve and Tourist Destination status to the Acadian Skies & Mi’kmaq Lands located in southwestern Nova Scotia. This area is the first destination in North America to receive a Starlight certification and is one of only four places in the world to receive both Reserve and Destination designations.  The region has the Tobeatic Wilderness Area at its core and covers the lands of Argyle, Clare, and Yarmouth municipalities.

Starlight Tourist Destinations must not only demonstrate the quality of their skies and the means to guarantee their protection, but they must also have adequate infrastructure and tourism-related activities: accommodation, equipment for astronomical observation provided to clients, and the training of personnel responsible for astronomical interpretation and their integration into nature at night.

Michel Samson, Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, made the official announcement of the certifications at the 2014 Tourism Industry Summit in Halifax.  Minister Samson said he believes Nova Scotia is ready to attract more visitors with this new designation and looks forward to working with businesses and community partners to develop new tourism experiences that grow our economy, motivate travel and share this part of our Province’s natural beauty.

Operators like the Trout Point Lodge, adjacent to the vast Tobeatic Wilderness Area, are already taking advantage of their natural setting by developing astro-tourism offerings. In fact, it was designated as the world’s first certified Starlight Hotel in September.

The Starlight Initiative is supported by UNESCO, the International Astronomical Union and the World Tourism Organization.

The initiative was lead by La Société Touristique Bon Temps d'Argyle and supported by the Nova Sccotia Tourism Agency, the municipalities of Argyle, Clare, and Yarmouth, Acadia First Nation, and the SW Nova Biosphere.