New P.E.I. tourism campaign shows 'harsh reality' of 2020 season
'We want to come back stronger. We just need the support of Islanders to do that'
The Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. (TIAPEI) has launched a new campaign called Tourism Counts to raise awareness about the importance of tourism on P.E.I. and its value for the Island economy.
"I think normally what you would see from tourism by way of videos and campaigns would be very optimistic and happy," said Corryn Clemence, the association's CEO.
"That's not so much what we're going to see in this campaign. This is the harsh reality that our industry is facing right now."
The campaign will share the personal stories and perspectives of those who worked in the sector this season. Clemence said they will talk about the impact COVID-19 had on their businesses, their families and answer questions like "what keeps you up at night?"
The goal, Clemence said, is to garner support and encourage Islanders to support local whenever possible.
"It's been a devastating year," said Clemence.
1 in 7 businesses risk closure
Bill Kendrick, co-owner of Experience P.E.I., said he lost about 90 per cent of his business this year.
"I'm not looking for anybody to feel sorry for me or my company. But I do hope that Islanders develop an understanding and are supportive."
Kendrick's company isn't alone. According to TIAPEI, due to the pandemic, thousands of P.E.I. tourism jobs are at risk of being lost, and one in seven businesses are at risk of permanent closure.
"I think what the campaign is really trying to do is educate all of P.E.I. about just how important the sector is to everybody whether you're working it or not," said Doug Newson, the CEO of the Charlottetown Airport Authority.
"And the importance of supporting local when you can so that a healthy tourism industry is here on the other side of this pandemic."
'Built on passion'
Premier Dennis King also announced on Tuesday that the Department of Tourism is waiving fees for the 2021 season due to the COVID-19 hit.
"That's a small token of what we can do, and a small token of what we need to do heading forward to assist this industry to get back on its feet," he said.
As for Clemence, she said despite it being a "heart-wrenching campaign," at the end of the day the videos show just how much everyone in the tourism industry on P.E.I. cares.
"The tourism industry is built on passion. It's built on dedication and it's built on optimism and resilience. And we want to come back stronger," she said.
"We just need the support of Islanders to do that."
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With files from Jessica Doria-Brown