Province trying to attract more university students to come study here
© Tourism P.E.I. image
Prince Edward Island: The Gentle Island
The P.E.I. government is spending $94,000 to develop a new brand for the province with a focus on attracting more university students.
A request for proposal was awarded to the marketing company M5 to develop an overall brand for Prince Edward Island that could be used for trade and export of goods and products from the Island.
As part of this work, the firm will also develop a special sub-brand to help sell the Island as a destination for international students.
Susan MacKenzie is chair of the province’s task force on post-secondary education. She said the goal of these new brands is to highlight Prince Edward Island on the world stage.
“What we’re looking for is what will set P.E.I. apart from all our other competition in the world, to sell our seafood, to sell our potatoes, to do trade, to recruit Island students, to generate more tourism,” MacKenzie said.
The task force is especially interested in recruiting more international students to the Island — not only as a means of generating revenue for the province but also to help keep P.E.I.’s post-secondary schools alive. This is becoming necessary as the number of students in P.E.I. is diminishing.
“We have a 30 per cent decline in students coming through our K-12 system and the bulk of students who go to our post-secondary institutions now come from our own domestic market,” MacKenzie said. “In order to sustain our institutions, we’re going to need more students.”
The provincial task force is also developing a recruitment and retention strategy to try to help attract more students and keep them here.
M5 has been holding stakeholder meetings on the two brands it has been hired to develop. MacKenzie said it’s too early to tell whether the ‘education destination brand’ would be different from the overall brand for the province, but the two will complement one another.
As part of its contract, the M5 has also been tasked to audit the province’s ‘Gentle Island’ tourism brand.
“That will be looking at whether ‘Gentle Island’ advertising works for Prince Edward Island,” MacKenzie said.
“At the end of the day, it may be that ‘Gentle Island’ works perfectly in what the overarching brand is and complements the education destination brand. I can’t predetermine what the outcome will be.”
MacKenzie said the task force has identified some benchmarks as to how they hope these brands will positively benefit the province, but these have not yet been approved by cabinet and thus cannot yet be made public.
M5 is expected to deliver its final report to government early in the new year.