P.E.I. wants $130M more in tourism

Prince Edward Island announces a five-year tourism strategy, aiming to increase revenues by almost a third.
The five-year tourism strategy for P.E.I. is to increase revenues by $130 million. (CBC)

A five-year tourism strategy for Prince Edward Island was announced on Thursday, aiming to increase revenues by almost a third.

The industry is currently worth approximately $370 million annually, and the goal is to increase that to $500 million by 2015.

"You have to set goals and targets that inspire people and make them think a little bit outside their own business and how they're going to grow their business," said Kevin Murphy, the chair of the Tourism Advisory Council of P.E.I.

Officials with the Tourism Advisory Council, which sets the direction for P.E.I.'s tourism industry, said a new convention centre and the 150th anniversary celebration of Confederation in 2014 will help build strength in the industry.

Some tourism operators, however, said the goals are unrealistic.

"The goals are overly optimistic," said John Brewer, who owns Anne's Windy Poplars Cottages in Cavendish. "I would rather see them come in a little bit under and actually do better."

Robbie Shaw, the owner of Shaw's Hotel and Cottages in Brackley Beach, said if he is expected to increase his business by three to eight per cent every year for the next five years, he will likely need help from the government.

"My suggestion was, would government commit to $12 million over the five years in new expenditures, to help meet these goals?" he said.

On Thursday, the government laid out its tourism marketing campaign, which includes an emphasis on online marketing through social networking such as Facebook and Twitter.

The budget for tourism marketing will be the same as last year, roughly $4 million.

Tourism Minister Robert Vessey didn't make any promises about funding to help the tourism operators meet their goals.

"I'm not going to comment if that's realistic today or now, but it's an ask, and I hear him loud and clear," Vessey told CBC News.