A record month at Charlottetown Airport led the P.E.I. tourism industry through a strong month in July.
'We still have a long way to go.' - John-Anthony Langdale, Tourism Advisory Council
Total overnight stays were up 3.6 per cent compared to last July, and up 4.0 per cent overall for the year, according to figures released by the Department of Tourism Wednesday morning.
The industry has been banking on a strong year, counting on heavy promotion of the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference, the meeting which launched the talks leading to the creation of Canada.
"The excitement surrounding the 2014 celebrations, increased business at the Prince Edward Island Convention Centre and all of our strong traditional offerings like beaches, culinary and beautiful scenery combined to help increase visitation," said Tourism Minister Rob Henderson in a news release.
The province had set a goal of tourism revenue going up five per cent in 2014. Revenue numbers are not part of the Tourism Indicators report, but the chair of the Tourism Advisory Council said that goal is within reach.
"We still have a long way to go, and our performance during August and September will be a key to our success, but the industry has every reason to be optimistic about the 2014 tourism season," said council chair John-Anthony Langdale.
The strong numbers at Charlottetown Airport reflected a big increase in visitors from outside Canada and the U.S.
The Island's strongest traditional markets, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, performed well, and overall the Canada numbers matched the 3.6 per cent overall increase. Visitors from the U.S. were down, but other international visitors were up 27.3 per cent in July.
Visitor numbers from both China and Japan saw triple digit increases in July.
Golf down again
July was another disappointing month for golf course operators.
Non-member rounds were down almost 10 per cent in June, with the blame laid at least partly on poor weather. But while the weather improved in July, golf numbers did not, falling 6.4 per cent in July compared to 2013.
Overall, non-member golf rounds are down 10.6 per cent for the year.
Provincial historic sites are also showing disappointing numbers.
Only Orwell Corner and its provincial agricultural museum recorded an increase in July visitors – up 20.0 per cent. Overall visitors to provincial museums was down 19.4 per cent.
National Park sites have fared better, in particular Province House, a central focus for 2014 celebrations. The site recorded 46 per cent more visitors in July over July of last year. Green Gables also saw an increase, and visitation to P.E.I. National Park was flat.
Visitors favouring camping
While the numbers are up for both fixed roof accommodations and for camping, campsites are seeing the bigger increases in overnight stays.
Campsites saw a 5.6 per cent increase, while fixed roof accommodations were up 2.0 per cent. Inns recorded a 4.6 per cent decrease in overnight stays.