September tourism report for P.E.I. suggests shifting patterns
Visitation is up, but overnight stays are down
September contributed to another strong year for P.E.I. tourism traffic, but a key indicator of the money spent by those visitors — overnight stays — is still down.
For the year to date, traffic is up on the two busiest routes into the province — Confederation Bridge and Northumberland Ferries — and down only slightly at Charlottetown Airport.
- Bridge: +0.8%.
- Airport: -0.3%.
- Ferry: +2.0%.
The province reports the number of visitors is up for the fifth straight year. It's projecting 1.58 million visitors for 2018.
But after four years of growth in total overnight stays, to the end of September that number is down 1.6 per cent.
Cruise visitors may be having an impact
Overnight stays are down in most categories: campgrounds and inns, hotels and B&Bs, in all regions for fixed-roof accommodations.
"There could be a number of reasons we are seeing a small decline in overnight stays as compared to overall visitation, including smaller party sizes and shorter lengths of stay," said Tourism Minister Chris Palmer in a news release.
"With the record setting cruise ship season, it's not terribly surprising to see an increase in overall visitation without a corresponding increase in overnight stays."
The number of cruise ship visitors is up 10.4 per cent.
Other strong points included an increase in overnight stays for visitors from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, as well as for visitors from key international markets. Camping was up everywhere except in the busy Green Gables shore region, where 70 per cent of site-nights were sold.
After a poor start, a strong September moved non-member golf rounds into positive territory for the year.
Palmer said Tourism Department staff are continuing to examine this developing disparity between visitors and overnight stays.