Early reservations being made with our quality accommodations bode well for tourism in 2016 following record years in 2014 and 2015, Economic Development and Tourism Minister Heath MacDonald says.
“Some tourism operators are telling us their bookings have started off strong so far this year,” Minister MacDonald said. “Although it’s still too early to tell, I’m cautiously optimistic that these great first indications will build on the success of the last two years and lead to a successful 2016 season.”
Tourism in 2015 started slowly due to the unprecedented winter weather that continued through March. However, numbers rebounded in the summer and fall resulting in a record year with significant increases particularly in overnight stays, bridge traffic, national park visits, and non-member golf rounds played.
Total overnight stays in 2015 increased by 2.9 per cent compared with 2014, and Confederation Bridge traffic increased 6.4 per cent. Non-member golf rounds and visits to PEI National Park and Green Gables were also up.
Anecdotal information on overnight bookings relayed by the tourism industry – combined with a good exchange rate on the Canadian dollar – show that 2016 should be a positive year in tourism.
“We are pleased with the numbers that we are seeing for the upcoming tourism season,” said Robert Jourdain, president of the Tourism Industry Association of PEI (TIAPEI). “This is a great forecast that we can expect a healthy tourism season with many visitors experiencing what our beautiful Island has to offer.”
Individual operators echoed the association’s position.
“Our 2016 tourist season bookings are as strong if not stronger than last year,” said Isaac MacPherson of the Northwinds Motel in Brackley Beach. “We are up significantly from our 2014 season, and we are seeing only increased tourism and interest in our province.”
“We certainly have been busier this quarter in relation to last year mainly because of the weather,” said Vicki Francis of the Cranford Inn in Charlottetown. “Our bookings into this summer and fall are on par with last year – and maybe even a little stronger into the fall.”
“Our bookings so far this year have been very good,” said Judy Pye of the Shipwright Inn in Charlottetown. “Last year was our best year ever, and this year may be even better.”
“We have to continue to be innovative in our approach to marketing without losing our identity,” Minister MacDonald said. “We have much to offer, including quality accommodations, culture and arts, historical and heritage entities, and we are home to Canada’s Food Island to name a few. Our brand and our way of life appeals to the travelling public and they want to experience it.”
Tourism indicators are provided to the province by individual tourism operators and are compiled by staff in the Department of Economic Development and Tourism – to see the full 2015 report visit 2015 Tourism Indicator Report.