Food Island: Wine and food festivals bring crowds to P.E.I.
'Many of these festivals attract significant off-Island visitation'
The Festival of Wines returns to Charlottetown May 26 and 27 and like many food or drink centred events, it drums up important business during a slower time of year.
The festival features wine boutiques, wine sampling, product education as well as special dinners focused on wine pairings.
"I think people are looking for authentic experiences, authentic products — I think that interest is definitely growing," said Jean-Sébastien Morin, wine category manager for the PEI Liquor Control Commission.
Morin explained the interest in local food, craft beer and wines is evident with the numbers of people who come to these events.
The Festival of Wines has been going on for 21 years, but in the past six years the festival has expanded significantly with about 1,300 people attending this year.
Festivals bring in $
Although the festival attracts mostly locals, the event does provide a nice bump in revenue. Morin explained restaurant events and hotel packages help the hospitality industry.
"It definitely helps get people into restaurants at a time that's a little slower," said Morin.
It also brings in revenue beyond ticket sales. Morin explained wine sales at the event are significant.
"It's not uncommon for a number of customers to spend $5,000 each," he said.
"There's obviously some very motivated and interested customers who come to our event."
Food events boost tourism
Other food centred events which have also helped P.E.I.'s economy include The P.E.I. International Shellfish Festival and The PEI Fall Flavours Festival. The provincial tourism department said many people decide to visit because of these food festivals.
The Shellfish Festival attracts about 7,000 attendees — half are non residents. Fall Flavours attracts about the same number with 40 per cent being from out of province.
"These festivals highlight the excellent products available here on Canada's food Island, these festivals helps cement our reputation as a producer of fresh and delicious food," said Heath MacDonald, minister of tourism.
"Many of these festivals attract significant off Island visitation."
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