How was tourism season? ‘We’ve had some impressive numbers’

By Kayla Fraser
Sept. 12, 2014

Prince Edward Island had a good summer tourism season.
And provincial Tourism Minister Rob Henderson says it bodes well for the Island tourism industry.
Henderson attended the Lobster on the Beach festival in West Point on Sept. 7 where he was able to speak to many tourists who said they would come back next year.
“We have to keep peoples awareness of our culture and our history and more awareness because of the increase in marketing, those are all things that are positive, for future sales too.”
Don Cudmore is the executive director for the Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island. Tourism has gotten along pretty well over the summer, and it’s not over yet, he said.
‘We’ve had some impressive numbers.”
Henderson agrees.
“I would say that if it was a good summer or not a good summer would be based on anecdotally when you get around the number of the festivals and events and talk to operators and generally getting the consensus that the numbers are all up. Everybody is pleased with the tourist season.”
Thanks to mandatory reporting, the government knows the statistics fairly quickly, Henderson said.
“We are light years ahead of every other jurisdiction. There are some jurisdictions out there that wouldn’t know whether they were up or down for maybe two years.”
The PEI 2014 celebrations were a big player in the marketplace this year, Henderson said.
“We believe we were probably one of the bigger motivators to get people to come to Prince Edward Island and the Maritimes.”
This year has been a special one for P.E.I. with a bigger marketing budget. That meant being able to market earlier to prepare and working with GoMedia to attract people to the Island, Henderson said.
“It really has had an impact on our tourism numbers, which are up, which hopefully the legacy of that at the end of the day will be that people had a good time while they were here. They’ll be able to come back and we’ll be able to grow our tourism industry each and every year in the future.”
Cudmore said along with cruise ships, there was quite an increase in air travel from additional conferences and meetings.
“That’s typically where we saw the increase.”
Henderson said the Charlottetown airport has had its best summer ever.
“Best month ever, it will probably the best year ever once it’s all said and done. That’s very encouraging … knowing that our numbers in Charlottetown are at all-time highs tells us once again that we must have had some really strong motivators to get people to come to Prince Edward Island.”
Not all the numbers were up this year.
The number of American tourists was down by 2.9 per cent.
Cudmore hopes once they know the summer numbers, they’ll be able to plan ahead for next year’s market.
“Depends on when we evaluate the season when we know our numbers for next year. Prince Edward Island has so much potential … We may experience some gains over the next few years.”
Henderson said he doesn’t know if the American numbers are totally going to be down, but in the last 10 years, American visits to P.E.I. flat lined.
“It’s very stagnant. We would run a little less than 90,000 U.S. visitors and that, I think, is reflective of the lack of marketing dollars that have been put in by Canada as a destination.”
Henderson wants to see changes in how the Canadian Tourism Commission markets in the United States, since it recently cut it’s funding by $63 million.
“If we’re not attracting those visitors to Canada, the chances of getting them to Prince Edward Island are a lot harder.”
Cudmore said TIAPEI is looking to lobby for more marketing campaigns in the United States because of the decline.
The Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island is also working with the Canadian Tourism Association to work on the United States for promotion.
“We will continue to market in these areas.”