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Tourism minister Rob Henderson encouraged with early season numbers

P.E.I. Tourism Minister Rob Henderson says he is encouraged by the May tourism numbers for the Island.

Total overnight stays were up by 5.3 per cent compared to the same month last year. Confederation Bridge traffic was up 9.2 per cent and air traffic also increased by 3.5 per cent.

Henderson said the 2014 celebrations, increased marketing and the royal visit likely played a role.

"Obviously the one that always stands out for me is always room nights sold," said Henderson.

"So that is kind of the crown jewel of our statistical numbers. And to see that up 8.1 percent, is very, very encouraging."

Henderson cautioned that May is very early in the season.

"We have to continue to work hard and make sure that visitors are getting what they expect when they come to Prince Edward Island. But we know that we've got good value for their money when they do come here," he said.

But it wasn't all good news. 

Site nights sold at campgrounds dropped by 5.5 per cent, and non-member rounds at Island golf courses fell by 16 per cent.

Henderson said that's not surprising given the cold spring. He pointed out there was still snow in some areas in May and many golf courses delayed opening.

Motor coach and cruise ship passenger numbers were also down in May.

The chair of the Tourism Advisory Council, John-Anthony Langdale, said it's still a little early to make any firm predictions about the success of the 2014 tourism season. But he believes the May numbers are reason to be optimistic.

He said the council has a five per cent target for growth in the tourism industry in 2014. He said they are well on their way to reaching that goal.