Tourism statistics show mixed results across the board for September and year-to-date numbers
© Guardian photo
Three cruise ships stopped by Charlottetown on Oct. 9: The Norwegian Dawn, The Emerald Princess and The Brilliance of the Seas. The number of cruise ship visits to P.E.I. in August 2013 were double what they were in the same month last year.
The number of room-nights sold in September was down 6.3 per cent, according to the latest figures from Tourism P.E.I.
Don Cudmore, executive director for the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I., said his organization had expected the numbers for September to be better than they were, that based on comments from operators who had a good month in August.
"Unfortunately in some areas, some areas didn't perform as well as others," he said.
The figures Tourism P.E.I. compiled show mixed results across the board for September and the year-to-date.
Room-nights sold were down in September and have been for every month but January and August for a 1.6 per cent drop for the year so far.
But while the room-nights sold were down in September, there were also fewer available for the third straight month.
When it came to visitors getting to the Island, bridge traffic was down 5.2 per cent in September and ferry traffic was down 1.8 per cent over the same time last year.
The number of motor coaches was down 7.8 per cent.
It wasn't all bad news, with air traffic up 1 per cent for the ninth straight increase this year along with a second consecutive month of increases in cruise ship traffic.
Overall, bridge traffic is down slightly for the year while air and ferry traffic are up.
And although the number of non-member rounds at provincial golf courses was down in September, they were up every other month this year for a 3.2 per cent increase over 2011.
With the decreases in some areas, Cudmore said he wondered how much worse things could have been in September if events like Fall Flavours weren't as successful as they were.
"It's tough out there these days and the last thing that are on a lot of people's minds is travel, unfortunately." Don Cudmore, TIAPEI
"It certainly is concerning, but we do know other provinces are experiencing the same sort of declines," he said.
Cudmore said the declines were likely because of the state of the economy and cutbacks in both the private and public sectors.
"It's tough out there these days and the last thing that are on a lot of people's minds is travel, unfortunately," he said.
In a news release in response to the September figures, tourism critic James Aylward said the tourism marketing strategy is too narrowly focused.
"While it is great to see individual events succeed, his (Henderson) current marketing plan is clearly not meeting the needs of operators in all Island communities," Aylward said.
Tourism Minister Robert Henderson said the province works with industry partners to make sure whatever resources are used to promote P.E.I. are used in the best way possible.
But issues such as the state of the economy, gas prices and the dollar exchange rate still have an impact on visitation numbers, he said.
"We think we are doing as well as competing jurisdictions."
Henderson said there has been some success in the province's marketing, such as targeting tourists from Quebec, although the number of tourists from Ontario is down this year.
"They're an elusive beast the visitor or the tourist, how to market them," he said.