Far fewer people are visiting P.E.I.'s tourist bureaus this year, but the tourism minister doesn't believe that's an indication of fewer people spending their holidays on the Island.

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New online tools have given tourists many new options for finding their way around apart from tourist bureaus. (Kevin Yarr/CBC)

The statistics show a steady decline in use in recent years at most centres across the province. Summerside city council was told this week the city's tourist bureau saw 36 per cent fewer visitors in July when compared to the same month last year.

Some councillors were concerned that meant a drop in tourists, but Tourism Summerside president Duke Cormier said that's not the case.

"At first glance, that's what you'd think. Accommodation numbers are up over 10 per cent over last July," said Cormier.

The Summerside tourist bureau is not alone in seeing fewer visitors. Provincial government statistics from July show tourist bureau visits across the province were down by 54 per cent. Part of that could be the weather, no one needs a tourist bureau when the beach is calling, but it is a trend that has been evident at most visitor centres for years.

With the exception of the new centre at Charlottetown Airport, and in Souris, numbers are down across the board. The most dramatic drops are at the busiest centres, in Charlottetown and Borden-Carleton.

Tourism Minister Rob Henderson believes the statistics are part of a change in how tourists find the information they are looking for.

"The tools that are on the web to plan your vacation and location and destination, the maps, all that stuff can be programmed right into a GPS," said Henderson.

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Rob Henderson reviews the latest tourism statistics in his office. (Brendan Elliott/CBC)

"The technology has just changed somewhat. So, it's just a trend that will probably continue on into the future."

Henderson pointed out while tourist bureau numbers are dropping, tourism website downloads are up.

The Tourism Department is closely monitoring the numbers at all the visitor information centres, but so far Henderson said he doesn't plan to reduce hours or cut staff.

For mobile device users: Where do you get most of your tourism information? 

Tourism information centres visitors: July

20052006200720082009201020112012
67,82661,09862,66352,06049,76254,84148,62941,200