PEI

How could it look? Providing tourism scenarios would help ease concerns, Liberal MLA says

A former P.E.I. tourism minister is calling on the government to lay out scenarios for the industry so operators and employees can try to make plans for the season.

Heath MacDonald says tourist operators want to start making plans

P.E.I.'s tourism industry employs about 7,000 people and is worth about $500 million to the economy in a normal year. (Shane Ross/CBC)

A former P.E.I. tourism minister is calling on the government to lay out scenarios for the industry so operators and employees can try to make plans for the season.

Liberal MLA Heath MacDonald said the tourism industry is bracing for a challenging season, but having an idea of what opening up will look like will provide optimism and help ease some anxiety.

"At some point your owners of these operations need to know, 'Gee, am I going to open at 50 per cent? What's the industry look like? Am I going to hire anybody or are we going to have to just do it on our own?'" he said.

"If we do present some scenarios I think we can stay on the calm course, people will be more patient."

P.E.I.'s tourism industry employs about 7,000 people and is worth about $500 million to the economy, MacDonald said. He said he realizes the government is under pressure and working on solutions.

"We are going to lose some businesses, without a doubt."

It will be a different kind of season at Green Gables and other P.E.I. tourist attractions. (Kevin Baillie)

He said helping the industry requires buy-in from all Islanders, not just people in the industry, much like people have supported COVID-19 measures like physical distancing.

"We're all in this together obviously. Everybody's open to doing what's best for Islanders at this time and I think we have to continue to do that."

Deals for Islanders

MacDonald said perhaps money could be diverted from ACOA or Innovation P.E.I. to provide tourism operators with more grants, rather than loans. 

Liberal MLA Heath MacDonald, a former tourism minister, says helping the industry requires buy-in from all Islanders. (Kerry Campbell/CBC)

He'd also like to see the province provide financial support for tourism businesses to offer special deals for Islanders to encourage them to take their vacation on P.E.I. this year.

"Provide the accommodations or the restaurants with some sort of subsidized approach that they can reduce their costs upfront to the travelling public and if you can do something like that then I think that myself or you might go to Mill River, instead of for a weekend, maybe we go for four or five days. It's at a reduced rate and you start moving people around."

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Mitch Cormier

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