Cottages the big winner in P.E.I.'s record tourism run

As P.E.I. was posting four years of record tourism numbers, it was cottage accommodations leading the way.

213K more overnight stays in 2018 than 2013

P.E.I. tourists are gravitating towards having their own space. (@campbellscovecampground/instagram)

As P.E.I. was posting four years of record tourism numbers, it was cottage accommodations leading the way.

The province's tourism industry marked record numbers of overnight stays from 2014 through 2017. That streak ended with numbers down 1.3 per cent in 2018.

But over the period from 2013 to 2018 the province saw a 27 per cent increase in total overnight stays, an extra 200,000. The biggest growth was in the cottage sector, with a 41 per cent jump. Cottage owners responded with investments that led to a 26 per cent increase in room nights available.

Hotels and inns were behind the trend, though business increased for both, with virtually no addition of rooms in that time.

Kevin Mouflier, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I., said in this age of Airbnb it is a particularly good sign that these traditional accommodations are showing growth.

"There's more out there for people to look at, opportunities, places to stay, than there used to be. To see that the hotels are still doing well, that's very positive," said Mouflier.

Mouflier said the biggest change over the last five years has been in experiential tourism.

Visitors enjoy working with chickens on Hope River Farm. (Submitted by Hope River Farm)

The industry on the Island has been developing new experiences for tourists, from working on the farm, Indigenous cultural events, to learning to knit, to cycling, water sports or deep sea fishing. Accommodations operators have been packaging those experiences with their rooms.

The experiences not only attract tourists, said Mouflier, but will tempt them to extend their stay.

Experiential tourism will continue to be important over the next five years, said Mouflier. He also sees opportunities in promoting the Island as a safe destination, and in sustainable tourism.

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About the Author

Kevin Yarr

Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I. You can reach him at kevin.yarr@cbc.ca.

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