SYDNEY — The international spotlight continues to shine on Cape Breton with one of America’s most renowned news networks the latest to turn its attention here.

CNN correspondent Paula Newton, accompanied by a camera crew, visited the island Tuesday shooting a segment for the network that will feature interviews with a number of Cape Bretoners and highlight what makes the island tick. The network’s interest in the island stems from the Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins website (cbiftrumpwins.com) created two weeks ago by Rob Calabrese, a radio host at 101.9 the Giant.

The website — which encourages Americans frustrated and bewildered by Trump’s presidential candidacy to consider a move to Cape Breton — has drawn hundreds of thousands of online visits and thousands of inquiries from Americans.

CNN’s day in Cape Breton began at Smitty’s restaurant in Sydney with Newton and the crew arriving shortly before 8 a.m. and staying for about an hour and a half, according to Smitty’s supervisor Mary Ann MacVicar.

“It was pretty exciting to have people from CNN here. They had the camera crew here and they had a couple of tables set up with local people and they were doing live interviews,” she said, noting all the attention the island is receiving has been great. “It’s really good for the economy to have all those people here.”

Sydney resident Michael MacLean, a popular bartender at the Holiday Inn’s Crown and Moose Pub and a longtime friend of Calabrese, was among those interviewed at Smitty’s.

“I jumped at the chance. I said ‘Certainly,'” he said. “It was a roundtable discussion. There were six of us and they asked us about the differences between Canada and the United States and questions like ‘Why do you like this island?'”

MacLean said he and others talked about how close-knit the community is, the beauty of the island, and the slower pace of life enjoyed by Cape Bretoners.

MacLean said he was proud to represent Cape Breton to the world.

“I was very happy to do it,” he said.

Mary Tulle, CEO of Destination Cape Breton, helped co-ordinate CNN’s visit and said Newton and her crew got a great snapshot of the island life with visits to Smitty’s, local businesses like Downtown Nutrition and law firm Sampson McPhee, the Sydney boardwalk, and even a quick stop at a property that is for sale in Marion Bridge.

“Overall I think what they’ll walk away with is the genuineness of Cape Breton Island and Cape Bretoners,” said Tulle. “The reception that they were greeted with everywhere that they’ve gone (was great).”

The Trump-inspired website includes a link to Destination Cape Breton’s website and activity to it has exploded over the last two weeks. Tulle said Tuesday that they’ve had close to 400,000 visits — 333,000 of them from the U.S. — to their website in the last two weeks, far outpacing the 293,000 visits they recorded all of last year.

The segment on Cape Breton will be broadcast today at 3 p.m. on CNN International’s flagship global affairs program, hosted by Christiane Amanpour, and is expected to then be picked up and re-aired by other CNN channels.

ljgrant@cbpost.com

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