PEI

P.E.I. dollars could be part of staycation incentives: King

The P.E.I. premier is not concerned about a New Brunswick rebate program designed to get New Brunswickers to vacation in their home province, saying new Island-based incentive programs are in the works.

‘We still have the best province,’ premier says of Maritime competition

On tourism, 'we won't take a back seat to anybody,' says P.E.I. Premier Dennis King. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

Prince Edward Island's premier is not concerned about a New Brunswick rebate program designed to get New Brunswickers to vacation in their home province this summer, saying his province has a number of its own incentive programs in the works. 

We won't take a back seat to anybody when it comes to trying to outdo the other Atlantic provinces.- P.E.I. Premier Dennis King

The Explore NB Travel Incentive program was announced earlier this week.

Speaking on CBC's Island Morning Friday, P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said the Tourism Department is planning a program that could perhaps include "P.E.I. dollars" to not only encourage staycations, but also persuade Islanders to spend dollars and travel around P.E.I.

"We won't take a back seat to anybody when it comes to trying to outdo the other Atlantic provinces when it comes to promoting travel within P.E.I.," said King.

"I say, very biasedly, that we still have the best province and it's going to be more difficult for them, my counterparts in the Maritimes, to keep their residents within their borders because they all want to come to P.E.I."

Pandemic spending has already pushed the provincial deficit up to $173 million, but King said he sees dollars going into the tourism economy as more of an investment than a cost.

"This is a time where we need to continue to stimulate our economy," he said.

"We need to find ways to make sure our Island businesses are able to make the best of what has been a very, very difficult season."

More details on that program will be released soon, King said.

Screening process working well

King also talked about how the screening process is working on the Island, and whether the government is considering any new measures, such as the voluntary contact tracing app being pitched by the federal government.

"It's a fine line … balancing the health and safety of Canadians as well as the privacy," said King.

The province's experience with two new sets of COVID-19 cases in the last couple of weeks demonstrated that P.E.I.'s contact tracing system is effective, he said.

When the Atlantic bubble opened July 3, King was there to greet people arriving on Confederation Bridge. (Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada)

"What we have is a pretty solid screening and tracking process, probably the most stringent in the country," said King.

"We do a good job of tracking who is coming here, learning about where they're coming from. It's certainly not 100-per-cent foolproof — I don't think anything is — but it's been pretty solid for us and it's been working well."

While premiers in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have been talking about expanding the current Atlantic bubble, King reiterated that he is happy with how it is working now.

"We would not be looking to expand beyond Atlantic any time in the near future," he said.

At a briefing Tuesday, King said the province would not begin to seriously look at expanding the bubble before August.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Island Morning

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