Tourism P.E.I. wants to sell the four provincially owned golf courses this year, but government announced this morning the province will continue to operate them in 2013.
In a news release issued this morning, Tourism Minister Robert Henderson says his department is still navigating through the RFP process with groups interested in owning or managing the courses.
But more time is needed.
“We want to get the best deal possible for Island taxpayers, so we are not going to rush into a deal that does not achieve our goal,” Henderson said.
The province issued a request for proposals on the management or
ownership of Brudenell River, Mill River, the Links at Crowbush Cove and Dundarave in the summer of 2012.
Government officials are currently working with interested parties as they finalize proposals.
Tourism P.E.I. identified the sale of the four courses as one of it priorities in its 2013 strategy, unveiled at the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I.’s annual meeting in December.
But Henderson says in today’s news release government needs more time to work out a deal.
“By operating all four courses this year, we give ourselves more time to negotiate with the interested parties,” he said.
“We also maintain the overall quality of the courses and maintain the marketing strategy to keep these courses as top-of-mind destinations for golfers.”
Last year saw an overall improvement in the performance of the four courses compared to the previous year. Total rounds played increased by close to 1,500 compared to 2011.
But the courses continue to operate at a financial loss. Total losses in 2012 totaled just over $800,000, which was almost $100,000 less than budgeted.
The province expects the process of transferring ownership or management of the courses will continue to move forward over the coming months.
But Henderson would not say when an announcement on the future of the courses would be made.
The golf industry is an economic driver for the province. It generates upwards of $16 million per year in tax revenue for the provincial government and local municipalities, and contributes about $61 million to the Island’s GDP.
The Guardian will have more on this story online later and full details in tomorrow's print edition.