Liberal MLA wants details of government's plan to support tourism industry
Minister of tourism says plan to be released March 18
A Liberal MLA wants more details about what the government plans to do to support the Island's tourism industry during the upcoming season.
Heath MacDonald raised the issue during question period in the legislature Thursday.
He said many Island tourism operators are currently trying to make plans for the upcoming season and are waiting for guidance from the province.
"Predictability is an important part of the process of whether they're going to open their business or not and you know, they're very, very worried," MacDonald said.
He asked Tourism Minister Matthew MacKay when those working in the industry would have some answers.
"So where is the plan? Maybe there's a plan we're not aware of for this industry. Where is the road map for this anxious industry?"
Plan to be released March 18
Responding to MacDonald's question, MacKay said he knows the tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic and government is gearing up to release its tourism strategy at a conference later this month.
"We've been working round the clock for the last eight months, with industry as a whole," MacKay said.
"Obviously I wish I had a crystal ball … the road map of the future, we still don't know what it looks like but we're prepared to the best of our ability and industry has been at the table front and centre with this and it's going to be rolled out March 18," MacKay said.
MacDonald countered that other regions are ahead of P.E.I. when it comes to laying out their intentions for this season.
MacKay told CBC News the recent spike in positive COVID-19 cases on P.E.I. and the modified red phase were a setback in rolling out the plans.
He said the tourism strategy for 2021 is being developed in partnership with the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. and includes details about the province's marketing campaign and new programs to help support operators.
MacKay didn't provide specific details of what this year's plan will include, but did say it will build upon last year's strategy that encouraged Islanders to explore P.E.I. and welcomed visitors from within the Atlantic bubble.
"Islanders really stepped up last year to support the tourism industry and tour the Island. The Atlantic bubble was a success and we feel like we can improve on that. Until vaccines roll out I just can't see us having much more than that," MacKay said.
"But depending on how quick we can roll vaccines out and how quick the rest of the provinces can roll vaccines out, will be the tell tale."