PEI

Absent New Brunswickers slow P.E.I. tourism recovery

The P.E.I. tourism industry saw significant improvement in August versus July, but New Brunswickers did not return to holiday at the same rate Nova Scotians did.

Return of motorcoaches and visitors from Ontario and Quebec a highlight

Nova Scotians in particular returned to holiday on P.E.I. in August. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

The P.E.I. tourism industry saw significant improvement in August versus July, but New Brunswickers did not return to holiday at the same rate Nova Scotians did.

The tourism industry has been among those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Measured in total overnight stays, business in August was down 30 per cent versus the record-setting pace set in 2019. That was much better than July, which was down 45 per cent.

"We're pleased. I think there's some very promising numbers that are showing there," said Corryn Clemence, CEO of Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I.

"We're starting to see some travel."

Clemence highlighted the return of motorcoaches and of visitors from Ontario and Quebec in particular.

Corryn Clemence likes the trends she is seeing. (Tony Davis/CBC)

"We knew that that was something we really wanted to go after as an industry when we had those border restrictions lifted," she said.

This summer's picture, however, was very different for visitors from the key markets of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Residents of those two provinces made up close to 60 per cent of visitors in 2019.

In August, the number of Nova Scotians holidaying on the Island came close to the number from 2019. It was down about 20 per cent in July, but only about five per cent in August.

New Brunswick was a little better than Nova Scotia in July, down 15 per cent, but actually slipped in August, down 17 per cent.

There could be a number of factors at play in the difference, Clemence said.

"Easing of border restrictions to other jurisdictions, incentives within their own provinces to stay and explore and potential confusion surrounding our entry requirements," she said.

Clemence does not believe there is any concern about New Brunswick visitors in the long term.

Clemence said she is looking forward to seeing the September numbers. She said she has been hearing good things from operators about the fall season.

With files from Angela Walker

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