'It's going to be a busy summer': P.E.I. businesses optimistic about tourism season

Summer weather arrived early on P.E.I. this year — and so did the tourists.

May long weekend kicks off tourism season

'It was crazy non-stop, like, I think since the first customer came in,' says Thi Hai An Tran with Gaia's Urban Eatery in Charlottetown. (Laura Meader/CBC News)

Summer weather arrived early on P.E.I. this year — and so did the tourists.

Several restaurants said they were extremely busy over the May long weekend, especially those with patios as the forecast on the Island climbed above 25 C.

"I'm so exhausted," said Thi Hai An Tran with a laugh, a server and cashier at Gaia's Urban Eatery.

"It's non-stop for me."

The restaurant in downtown Charlottetown first opened its doors during the COVID-19 pandemic. With restrictions easing, she said it was nice to see more off-Island visitors.

"I think it's because of the hot weather, people just want to go out and enjoy the food outside, so it was, like, crazily busy," said An Tran. 

"It's a big difference."

It's a trend many businesses hope continues as the province finally gets ready for its first real tourism season since the pandemic began.

"We definitely beat our sales from May long weekend last year," said Brenna Ing, the co-manager at Coastal Culture in Charlottetown.

"We definitely did a lot better this year."

Coastal Culture in Charlottetown says it is hoping to beat its May long weekend sale numbers from 2019. (Laura Meader/CBC News)

In fact, Ing said she expects the store to also beat its sales from 2019.

"We don't want to jinx anything," she said. 

'First time travelling since COVID'

Across the street, Robyn Juniper from Alberta was visiting a local coffee shop with her travel partner.

"This is our first time travelling since COVID, so it's really nice to be here and just see things," she said. "We're excited for it." 

'We're doing pretty steady right now, but we don't want to jinx anything,' says Brenna Ing with Coastal Culture in Charlottetown. (Laura Meader/CBC News)

Edmonton's Caleb Urion agrees.

"We've been planning this for over a year now, so we've been saving up for it," he said. 

"Getting my share of all the mussels and oysters."

Others are also enjoying their long weekend trip to the Island. 

"It's nice, it's a very cute town, Charlottetown, everything is so close together, nice to walk around, find whatever you need. We've been enjoying it," said Sharley Martinez from Toronto.

Robyn Juniper in visiting P.E.I. for a wedding. She says it been nice to travel again. (Laura Meader/CBC News)

"I'll keep spending on restaurants and food for sure," said Natalia Parada from Montreal. "Most of the money has been going to my belly."

Back at Gaia's Urban Eatery, staff are already making plans to expand their menu in preparation for the remainder of the tourism season. 

"It's going to be a busy summer," said An Tran. "I'm so ready."

With files from Laura Meader


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