© Guardian by Heather Taweel
Tourism Minister Robert Henderson says visitors are increasingly turning to computers and mobile devices to get information about Prince Edward Island rather than ordering a copy of the annual Visitor Guide.
Robert Henderson anticipates at least five percent jump in visitors to P.E.I.
Tourism Minister Robert Henderson says he is cautious about tossing numbers around when forecasting an upcoming tourism season.
Still, he believes the ducks seem to be lined up for a banner year in 2014.
For one, the Loonie currently hovering around the 91-cent mark is at a favorable level to attract American visitors.
But more important, the province is in party mode with events happening left, right and centre throughout the year. A Royal Visit and the ECMAs are part of a big year that will also see some 150 events and festivals held to mark the 125th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference.
Henderson says early indicators are very promising.
“I think the reality is we are already seeing really strong bookings from the meetings and convention sector,’’ he says.
“Just about every accommodation operation that I’ve talked to in the last couple of months are saying that they’re inquiries and their bookings are up 10, 15 percent over what it was last year at this time.’’
The 2014 cruise ship season is also expected to see a record number of passengers with more than 100,000 coming to port in Charlottetown.
While Henderson says he is hesitant to predict how many more tourists will come to P.E.I. in 2014 over last year, he anticipates a jump of at least five percent.
“Everything is shaping up good,’’ he says.
“So we are cautiously optimistic that we are going to see that really turn into a banner year this year. I would be disappointed if it were not a banner year.’’
Meanwhile, the province’s 2014 Visitor Guide has been out for the past few weeks, printed at a cost of $187,000. A total of 180,000 English copies and 45,000 French copies are available for mail out, visitor information centres, tourism operators and other venues.
However, Henderson says tourists are increasingly interested in getting web copies of the Visitor Guide over a hard copy.
“Times are changing but we have to adapt to that as best we can as a department,’’ says Henderson.
“I don’t know if anybody has the magic pill to say that you put all your money into social media (or) you put all your money into print media or into wherever,’’ he adds. “You have to kind of have a multifaceted approach.’’
The provincial government normally spends $4 million on off-Island tourism advertising but will increase that budget by 25 per cent in 2014 for a total of $5.2 million with the additional $1.2 million coming from the P.E.I. 2014 Inc. budget.
“We want to market strategically together instead of (P.E.I.) 2014 going off and doing one strategy...so it’s an integrated strategy between the two.’’