September 22, 2006
For immediate release
August Tourism Performance Indicators Released
Comparisons for the month of August of 2006 over August 2005 show very little change with one percent fewer non-resident travellers on both the bridge and the ferry. The airport continues to show growth over last year with an increase of 13 percent for the month of August. Year-to-date, vehicular tourism traffic for the Island is down marginally at minus two percent for the bridge, minus four percent for the ferry and airport traffic up over last year with a 24 percent increase.
“We aren’t happy that the numbers remain in the negative, albeit only a one percent change over last year,” noted Philip Brown, Minister of Tourism. “We are keenly aware that overall travel is down and we understand that the market is strained, but I still feel that we have the potential to show recovery. Late summer and early fall has developed into a strong season for tourism in our province and we will continue to work to bring as many visitors to the Island as possible. The fall campaign which enhances our existing marketing strategy should boost our numbers over the coming months.”
Industry speculation notes that family travel and travel for those more budget conscious has been impacted the hardest, with higher fuel prices for both home heating and vehicle fuel lowering the discretionary travel funds. Leisure travel across Canada has been reported to be lower than average and everyone in the tourism industry is feeling the pinch. Nova Scotia reported a 12 percent decline for visitations for the month of July and New Brunswick has stated they are experiencing a “crisis” in the industry. Like PEI, other reporting regions cite weather fluctuations, soaring gas prices, war and security concerns. For Canadian provinces, the rise in the Canadian dollar has meant that travellers are more easily drawn to the US.
Robbie Shaw, Co-Chair of the PEI Tourism Advisory Council noted, “We have recently developed a Five-Year Strategy for Tourism and we believe we are on the right path. There are a number of external factors coming into play that are having an effect on tourism in the region. As an industry, we must continue to think of new ways to entice visitors to choose P.E.I. as a vacation destination through experiential product development. Motivating today’s consumer is no longer about selling ‘pretty pictures’; the consumer wants an experience and the choices are endless. The competition is investing more so we need to be more creative, using the research we’ve gathered to guide our decision making.” The Tourism Advisory Council has been analyzing issues that have been affecting tourism in 2006 and conducting research to assist in planning for 2007.
Tourism performance indicators are released to the public monthly and can be downloaded at www.gov.pe.ca/tourism.