© Guardian photo
Traffic on the Confederation Bridge was down 11.6 per cent in June compared to June 2012, according to tourism numbers released by the province Wednesday.
P.E.I.'s tourism industry had another positive month as the number of overnight stays went up in July over the same time last year.
Don Cudmore, the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I.'s executive director, said the three per cent increase in room nights sold at fixed roof accommodations was an important number.
"July numbers are decent," he said.
The province's tourism indicators for July show the number of overnight stays was up 2.5 per cent over last year, which the third straight month with an increase in 2013 and meant the year-to-date total was up 2.8 per cent.
That included a 1.9 per cent increase in the number of site-nights sold at Island campgrounds in July.
And while there was growth in bridge and air traffic in July, ferry traffic dropped 2.3 per cent and all three were down year-to-date over last year.
Cruise ship and motorcoach traffic continued to see improvements and both were up for the year.
Cudmore said the numbers weren't as high as in past years, but there are more rooms available and there is more competition out there.
"To have some increases is certainly great. We needed it," he said.
One area of concern for the tourism industry was the 5 per cent decline in the number of overnight stays for people from Quebec, which Cudmore said is a key market.
"We'd like to see that grow," he said.
Cudmore said it's nice to see the positives in the latest numbers, but everyone involved in tourism is anxious to see more substantial growth on a regular basis to show the industry is coming back.
"We know it's going to grow past what it used to be, but we're anxiously awaiting for that to happen," he said.
Tourism Minister Robert Henderson shared that optimism and agreed the room nights sold was the key indicator.
"That's very encouraging that those numbers continue to stay strong and we're hopeful that it will continue into the future," he said.
Another area where the numbers weren't growing this year was at the provincial golf courses where July's non-member rounds were down 7.3 per cent, which meant there were declines in every month this year.
Henderson said golf is still a key tourism attraction in P.E.I., but it's a very competitive market and some other jurisdictions re-invested in their golf products.
The province is in the process of trying to find someone to buy, lease or manage the courses and Henderson said the government might not have invested as much in them as is needed to make it a growing industry.
"It's a difficult market and it's a tough one for the province and government to get too actively involved when we're sending signals that we're trying to sell them," he said.
Henderson said the province hopes to have a decision on the courses made by the end of the year.