'Making the most of the free entry': Visits to Green Gables site expected to increase

If the Victoria Day weekend is any indication, the Green Gables Heritage Place in Cavendish, P.E.I. will be a busy place during the 2017 tourism season.

Visits to heritage site on long weekend up by 47 per cent over a year ago

Visitors to Green Gables Heritage Site are able to interact with students hired to act like Anne Shirley. (Parks Canada)

If the Victoria Day weekend is any indication, the Green Gables Heritage Place in Cavendish, P.E.I. will be a busy place during the 2017 tourism season.

With the celebration of Canada 150, free entry into National Park sites and renewed interest in the story of Anne of Green Gable after the recent airing of the Anne series, Ocel Dauphinais-Matheson expects things to get even busier during the summer. 

"We had a great Victoria Day weekend, it was quite exciting to see so many folks on site," said the visitor experience manager for National Historic sites on P.E.I.

Long weekend visits

Dauphinais-Matheson said there were just under 1,500 visitors to the site over the long weekend. 

"That is basically a 47 per cent increase over that same weekend in 2016. So, a pretty big increase and we saw people pretty excited to be on site." 

Dauphinais-Matheson said some visitors were making return visits, with many taking advantage of the free entry to visit the Anne of Green Gables site. 

He added while visitor numbers have been increasing over the past few years, the visits in May are not usually high. 

"This is exciting to see that in the shoulder season — May — which is sort of our lowest visitation in terms of the months that we're open it was really exciting to see this big spike in visitations. It's great to see." 

Local visitors

While there are no official numbers to indicate how many visitors were from P.E.I. and how many were tourists, Dauphinais-Matheson said from what staff have told him, there were many from P.E.I. 

"Everybody is making the most of the free entry. Lots of people haven't been here in a long time or haven't been here since they were kids so this is the opportunity to come out."

More staff have been hired to help with the expected busy season. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

And while the site might be used to high levels of visitation, they are preparing for a busy season. 

Quieter times

"One of the big things we've been letting people know about is the quieter times to visit the site." 

Dauphinais-Matheson said while July and August are the peak season months and most visits take place between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., people can have quieter visits from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 3 p.m to 5 p.m. 

They've brought in additional staff to help out with the increased visits and have created apps to help provide more information. 

And while admission is free, visitors are still asked to check in so staff can provide information about the site. 

With files from Mainstreet