PEI

Tourism minister confident summer will be a success despite later reopening

P.E.I.'s tourism minister says he’s confident the Island will have a successful tourism season despite reopening its borders to Canadian travellers later than New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.

'I'd rather be right than first'

Tourism Minister Matthew MacKay says P.E.I.'s reopening dates could become earlier if all goes well. (CBC)

P.E.I.'s tourism minister says he's confident the Island will have a successful tourism season despite reopening its borders to Canadian travellers later than New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.

"As far as our tourism season, what I can say is I'd rather be right than first," Matthew MacKay said Wednesday.

MacKay said the health and safety of Islanders has always been the top priority, and said that strategy may end up working in the province's favour when it comes to attracting visitors.

"Tourists want to go to a safe place, that's their number one issue for travelling with COVID. And that's what we're going to provide."

N.B., N.L. reopening to Canada July 1

As long as vaccination rates remain on schedule, New Brunswick is planning to open its borders to residents of P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador on June 7, and the rest of Canada by July 1 if they've had at least one dose of vaccine.

Newfoundland and Labrador is also planning to open to Canadian travellers by July 1 if vaccination rates stay on track.

We don't want to overpromise and under-deliver.— Matthew MacKay

Nova Scotia, which has 311 active cases, is taking a more cautious approach, but is being pressed by its tourism industry to make its plan more specific.

P.E.I. is planning to open its borders to Atlantic Canadians on June 27 with no isolation requirements, provided travellers have at least one dose of vaccine. The province will further loosen restrictions Aug. 8, when fully vaccinated Canadians can apply for travel through one of the province's approved streams.

In September, fully vaccinated Canadians will be able to travel to the Island without pre-travel approval.

MacKay said those dates could change depending on the epidemiology and vaccination rates.

"We don't want to overpromise and under-deliver," he said. 

MacKay said there has been a lot of work going on behind the scenes in the last eight to 10 months regarding the tourism industry.

"We've got some great initiatives in the works that we'll be able to go public here shortly. We've got a plan in place that we feel and quite confident that we're going to end up having a great tourism summer here."

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Wayne Thibodeau

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