Ontario and New Brunswick shuns P.E.I. in July, according to tourism indicators

Wayne Thibodeau
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Tourism continued to struggle in July in Prince Edward Island. Visitation to Green Gables House was down 7.5 per cent.

Prince Edward Island’s tourism industry continued to struggle in July, according to the latest tourism indicators released today.

The Island is seeing declines in visitation from two key markets, Ontario and New Brunswick.

“Despite a few bright spots, most of our priority markets have not been performing to the end of July,” said John-Anthony Langdale, chairman of the Tourism Advisory Council.  


“We continue to work closely with the department as it implements the annual plan with a focus on conversion in our short-haul markets.  Major events and their associated

marketing hold promise for August and September with such events as Old Home Week, the Atlantic Canada Air Show, P.E.I. Jazz and Blues Festival, Fall Flavours and the Shellfish Festival, to name a few.”

Numbers for air traffic, total golf rounds played and National Park visitation are all up compared to July of last year.

The drop in visitation from Ontario and New Brunswick all negatively impacted fixed-roof accommodations, campgrounds and the Confederation Bridge.

Ontario visitation was down nearly 10 per cent in July while visitation from New Brunswick was down nearly seven per cent.

“Our overall visitation numbers remain strong despite weakness in both the Ontario and New Brunswick markets,” says Tourism Minister Robert Henderson.

“Despite a few bright spots, most of our priority markets have not been performing to the end of July,” John-Anthony Langdale, chairman of the Tourism Advisory Council

“It’s difficult to speculate as to why these important markets are showing a decline, but the competitiveness of the industry, new rules for duty-free purchases in the United States and economic uncertainty are all likely factors. Regardless, we remain confident that August and September will show improvements in overall visitation.”

The July tourism indicators show bridge traffic down by 4.4 per cent.

Air traffic is up by 2.6 per cent.

Ferry traffic is down by 1.1 per cent.

Total golf rounds played increased by 7.8 per cent.

Meanwhile at Parks Canada, visitation to the P.E.I. National Park was up 10.8 per cent while visits to Green Gables was down by 7.5 per cent.

Visits to historic Province House plummeted by 24.5 per cent.

Parks West saw a decline of 1.0 per cent while Parks East had an increase in traffic of 5.8 per cent.

When looking at fixed roof accomodations, room-nights sold increased in the North Cape Coastal Drive.

But were down in all other coastal drives including Green Gables, Red Sands, Charlottetown and Points East.







Organizations: Tourism Advisory Council, Parks Canada, Province House

Geographic location: Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island Green Gables United States P.E.I. National Park North Cape Charlottetown Points East

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Recent comments

  • Alastair McIntyre
    October 06, 2014 - 15:16

    In 2004 I was invited to stay for a month with a friend in PEI while I was working in the USA and looking to return to Scotland. I very much appreciated the invite but had to ask where PEI was as I'd never heard of it. I then spent that month in PEI and arrived the day after your heaviest fall of snow in your history (2004). Despite that I really enjoyed my time there. I suspect your problem is more to do with ignorance of the travelling public rather than anything else. Like the local genealogy folk told me that they thought 60% of PEI resident had Scottish blood in their DNA. Yet as a Scot I knew nothing of this. I did a journal of my time there and then did research on historic ties with PEI from a Scottish perspective and found some fabulous information. I posted this up on my web Electric Scotland and have since copied it to the Electric Canadian web site. I enjoyed reading about the Belfast settlement and the settlement of Cavendish and Stanhope. I am sure more Scots would visit if they knew more about what PEI has to offer. I did offer to carry some high profile advertising for PEI on my site but the tourism folk were not interested. I was actually quite keen to try and do a year long program of weekly articles about the island.

  • Treating people right.
    September 01, 2012 - 16:25

    This Island is all about profit and not about the people of pei and that reflects on how they treat people who come to pei. If they learn how to treat there own people they will learn how to treat people who come to the Island to visit.

  • Henry Sow
    September 01, 2012 - 10:39

    The report say that visitors to Province House was down by 24.5 %. I wonder if visitors to Sleepy Hollow were up. Perhaps tourists thought they would catch most of the politicians at the Hollow where they belong.

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    September 01, 2012 - 09:48

    COME on people, markets rise and fall all the time due to a wide variety of factors. Tourism operators must stop crying in their milk. The first thing I would do would be to eliminate the Tourism Advisory Council for all the good they do. “Despite a few bright spots, most of our priority markets have not been performing to the end of July,” said John-Anthony Langdale, chairman of the Tourism Advisory Council.

  • Cheddy
    September 01, 2012 - 08:00

    Wow what a shocking mystery!!! PEI tourism is tanking. But what is happening? We on PEI have a divine right to do everything wrong and still be showered with riches and acolades. correct? Is that not what we were supposed to believe from the Kelly Ripa delusionality message? I love PEI and you should to, so says Ripa. Cannot we not utterly destroy our natural areas and just have some pics and vids kicking around in a provincial museum that we may get around to building around 2030 or so? Here, friends, observe a video of the Bonshaw Hills Superhighway named in honour of the natural and scenic splendour destroyed in its construction. Enjoy the video! Surely that is what the discerning tourism consumer wants? Special PEI being allowed to make every mistake possible and still prosper, no? Tourism Chtown is now fully exposed for spending with specific private interests in mind, the provincial taxpayer acting as safety catch net. The Tourism Dept. features untendered contracts with no discernible results to the tune of many millions. The people in charge of the province integrated Tourism and Culture in one department but the top guys are tooo arrogant to listen to people who actullay do arts and culture in the province. And now as a Minister we have Henderson who proves basically every week that he has no more skill, insight, nor acccoutability than the two failures before- Docherty and Vesey. And now the Premier himself leads the runination of the 2014 celebration by putting new offices for judges and MLAs at the top of the wish list. Pretty bizarre and truly kooky stuff! How does that help tourism? Come to PEI - the most abusively elitist jurisdiction in North America??? Something like that? I honestly do not know why tourism is collapsing on PEI. We are making every possible mistake we can imagine. And the divine is still with us? No? Maybe..maybe...just maybe.. we still have a great future but soon...... really soon.... inteligence and deliberation must overcome stupidity and arrogance. The latter rule this roost today..in tourism and in everything else.

  • Karen
    September 01, 2012 - 06:50

    So this headline has just shunned those Ontarians an NB'ers who do come here.

  • Billy
    September 01, 2012 - 06:46

    There are a lot of tourists (probably not accounted for) staying at cottages across PEI, where the rent is kept under the table. However, it is just getting too expensive to travel and stay on PEI when the beaches can be had in other Atlantic provinces. This has been the best summer weather in years and that alone should account for a rise in tourism.

  • John W.A. Curtis
    September 01, 2012 - 01:51

    My Dad's family is from Ontario and I don't recommend people visit P.E.I. till Islanders get rid of politicians in Summerside, Charlottetown and the Ghiz government. Under these politicians our Island's reputation really stinks.

    • I may not be helping, but . . .
      September 01, 2012 - 10:32

      I was really surprised to hear some people "from away" discussing the PNP and Plan B thing and other political issues - I really thought that stuff would be the last thing on their minds while vacationing. I would never have thought politics would influence tourism . . . but they may. As someone who moved here to live, I know it's certainly made me think about the choice I've made . . . there's no way this government listens to its constituents, that's for sure. Perhaps all this does taint PEI's image more than we think? Sometimes I think we've fallen into a pretty corrupt situation. Hope things turn around soon.

  • reality
    August 31, 2012 - 20:00

    It is time to look at what is here for tourists to visit. Unpredictable weather. Beaches strewn with rocks both on the beach and in the water making for difficult entry for swimming or any other water sports. Overly high accomodation prices gouging any visitor. An unending reliance on Anne of Green Gables which is growing rather weak in the market due to over promotion. Extremely high bridge fees and ferry fees to get here ( that is wrong- to 'escape' from here). Overly advertised and priced golfing opportunities. What else- not much more. And I have heard from people who have visited- once is enough - no second return. It is time this Island came to the realization that it is in a very precarious situation with its reliance on tourism. There are numerous places one can visit from Toronto that offer much much more at much more reasonable prices. WAKE UP PEI! There is an obvious end coming for this reliance on tourism.

  • Me
    August 31, 2012 - 18:14

    PEI is a place where you come to see Anne of Green Gables...buy a t-shirt and never have to return!! People are starting to realize that!

  • Peter Llewellyn
    August 31, 2012 - 17:01

    Ms. Gallant of tourism made it clear in Jan that PEI will stay the course and ONLY run PEI advertising in Quebec , because TV ads don't work? I suggested they tell Newfoundland and the other province they have it wrong and they should follow the PEI "Stick your head in the sand and wish" model of attracting visitors .

  • Neil
    August 31, 2012 - 16:55

    PEI = Been there, Done that!!

  • Tomatoes, tom at oes.
    August 31, 2012 - 16:18

    30 years ago, I could do the long drive from Toronto and arrive in PEI and enjoy the differences between upper Canada and all the features that this beautiful Island could offer. Now, the Island is starting to become more and more like the place I was leaving. This whole thing about changing that road over the hills before you get to Charlottetown? That's a great example of what I mean. Tourists want something different as a reward for getting here . . . not more asphalt, we can get that anywhere.

    August 31, 2012 - 15:16

    Do you suppose that it might have something to do with the fact that you cannot drive 5kms in any direction without running into flag people and road crews doing road work hat should have been done in Apr and may but had to wait because the road crews were still on EI.

    • JASON A
      August 31, 2012 - 15:21

      but if the roads were in terrible shape you would complain about that as well at least islanders are getting the opportunity to be employed .

  • Garth Staples
    August 31, 2012 - 15:06

    So what was the net decline in visitation for July? Please don't release and don't print anything less than the total results. If Ontatio was down 10%, NB down 7.5% and bridge traffic down 4.4% , ferry traffic down 1.1% then July should be real cause for concern. Quoting golf rounds is a useless meaningless exercise. Quit the spin. The truth will set you free to do programmes that produce results not useless pressreleases.

  • Faithful Puss
    August 31, 2012 - 14:59

    Soon Ontario and NB won't matter. Nothing will matter anymore. We are going to attract rich people from NY. How? People will soon discover that plan B is in fact the first step of a huge prime real estate project with luxury condos rising above Srathgartney park and the West river. Rich people need a highway. Starthgartney park needs a new parking lot.. No pb. PEI is the pretty..Plan B is not about safety or transportation, it's about marketing.

    • I do not think so
      August 31, 2012 - 23:21

      What?? This dream is based on what?? Plan B is NOT going to attract rich people. Rich people have their own planes and/or would be flying to the island if this was true. This is the kind of mindset that has caused the tourism to decline with no reasonable responses to help. This is in line with putting 2 giant gawdy lobsters on bustops in Ottawa for a month thinking that this would attract Ottawa tourists to PEI. Right. Dream on,

      September 01, 2012 - 08:31

      So it went something like this.. yeah our people can make piles of cash... we just need a few high rollers here and there... timesharing maybe.... or whatever... it does not really have to work.... Strathgartney would make a great parking lot..... but we are going to need a super fast highway.. at least 100k maybe 110K,,,,, so high rollers can move between the casino and the airport and the bridge and the chalets very slick like.... oh welll there is that federal funding...the Atlantic Gateway....let's look into it.... by summer 2012 we can call it Plan B...... lucrative and amusing......something like that?????

  • Ontario Driver
    August 31, 2012 - 14:18

    We visit in July for the last 25 yrs from Ontario every year because of family. Over the years there are less and less people to visit there and fewer family members from away can make the long road trip (air to expensive). So an aging population is changing demographic's from Ontario I can see. Getting to PEI is a very long drive, Montreal traffic is a hassle, Hwy 20 crowded in summer, but the best part is the divided hwy expansion through NB which is a huge relief but still PEI is off the path of many travellers. Getting to and staying on PEI is expensive and many in Ontario can get an All Inclusive week or two in the Caribean for much less than a PEI trip so competition from other markets has increased. But I think internal PEI tourism stats have always been manipulated high esspecially since they consider and Islander driving more than 45 km on PEI a Tourist ? As long as I have someone to visit on PEI I'll go back but if that changes my dollars go South not East unfortunately as I can drive/fly to Florida or South Carolina with less effort/expense. Needless to say I can fly to Hawaii or Italy from Toronto for less than PEI too which never made sense.

  • Romper
    August 31, 2012 - 14:12

    Unfortunately PEI is being recognized more and more these days for political corruption ; a stark contrast to the wholesomeness of Anne. Who would want to visit?

    • So true
      August 31, 2012 - 23:28

      While traveling outside of PEI several times last year, the corruption and violation of peoples' rights on the island has become HUGE conversation and a big turn off for many!! People do not want to visit a place that has harmed others and/or involved in corrupted ways. This is affecting tourism!!

  • concerned islander
    August 31, 2012 - 14:01

    Too bad the ones who figure they know whats best for the island wouldnt ask the what if question before they did the moves such as over run the island with golf courses while they stood back and watched one off the islands greatest playlands be shut down and torn apart yes im talking about rainbow valley one off the islands best selling points for familys comming too our island and as far as the old home week or should be called midway ripoff imagine 10 dollars per person before ya even get in not too mention scaled back and every price for all activitys priced out ragous you cant even go enjoy an evening at the track without paying addmission gotta wonder whos filling there pockets ground fees in summerside are free during there lobster carnavil any wonder why the tourisim is down just keep assigning the theifes too run it all

    • Tourista
      September 03, 2012 - 14:02

      Golf course's were popular PnP investments in all the Maritimes and many a Dairy Farmer dumped the cows for winters in Florida. PEI was more popular when it was less like any other place. The more it turned into US like main stream destinations the less desirable PEI became. #1 National Parks should be free daily admission, # 2 hotel/cottage rates should be more reasonable (tourists feel gouged). #3 Cottage/Land owners should stop illegally blocking public access to the shore line. #4 Policing needs to improve in Charlottetown (feels too insecure), #5 Tourism is about People - not Sand Pipers,not made in China souvenirs, not big box stores, not Green fallacies , not giant Concerts - but going some place that is genuine and experince good things PEI has to offer. Exit surveys only need one question. WHY would you come back to PEI?

  • Joe the Tourist
    August 31, 2012 - 13:59

    May I suggest that in addition to the exit survey, which catches the opinions of those who are leaving PEI, we conduct some outward-directed market research in winter to random people in our target markets who may not be already vacationing here. Let's find out what they want and what we would have to do to attract them here as tourists next year. Exit surveys are like surveying the people coming out of church about their views on religion...

  • Ty
    August 31, 2012 - 13:47

    Its because rainbow valley is gone :-( lol

  • Jeremy
    August 31, 2012 - 13:09

    1) Lower Prices for the golf courses 2) Everything here is getting way over priced now a days 3)Closing Rainbow valley was a huge mistake 4)Need a Better water fun park then shinning waters 5) The only big thing is Cavendish these days is the Country concerts 6) Everything is getting run down builidings for ex Woodligh Replicas 7) we are outdated with the times of the rest of the world Need to say more!! this island went down hill in a hurry, Need to get back on track and get more people here to enjoy this nice island we got here. A lot of people take it for granted most days..

  • stop playing with numbers
    August 31, 2012 - 13:05

    Total golf rounds played was up 7.8%.. This is a big, big problem. It should have been up 50%-75%. It rained all last July! This year was beautiful. Stop playing with numbers.