April tourism numbers strong for P.E.I.

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FILE PHOTO. An artist's rendering of the P.E.I. Convention Centre

Many more people than normal for April came to meet and do business in P.E.I.

The total number of delegates who attended meetings on the Island was up close to 1,500 compared to last April, marking an increase of close to 300 per cent.

The $24.3-million Prince Edward Island Convention Centre on the Charlottetown waterfront officially opened in August 2013 with the hope of drawing more conventions, as well as ones with larger delegations.

Early signs look promising.

John-Anthony Langdale, chair of the Tourism Advisory Council, says the large increase in convention delegates in April compared to the same month last year is very encouraging.

“Meetings and Conventions are a key pillar of our tourism strategy and all signs point to a banner year for that sector of the industry in 2014 with major increases in booked conventions compared to 2013,’’ Langdale said in a statement.

Tourism and Culture Minister Robert Henderson was upbeat with the overall figures released Monday, saying they show a significant increase in visitation in April compared to the same month last year.

“Increased convention business and major events like East Coast Music Week made a significant contribution to overall visitation,’’ said Henderson.

“These are very encouraging numbers so early in the year, and when you combine them with the increases we’re seeing in reservations and web traffic, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic about the 2014 tourism season.’’

Many are forecasting a banner tourism year on P.E.I. with yearlong celebrations planned to mark the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference.

The numbers in April offer cause for such optimism.

Last month, traffic on the Confederation Bridge was up by 11.4 per cent and the number of room nights sold was up by 14.9 per cent compared to April 2013.

Year-to-date bridge traffic is up 3.8 per cent and total room nights sold is up 5.2 per cent.

“We are also very optimistic about the summer,’’ says Kevin Murphy, chair of the Hotel Motel Association of Prince Edward Island.

“Our members are reporting increases of between 15 and 20 per cent in terms of pre-bookings compared to this time last year.’’

Of course, golf course owners did not enjoy healthy returns during the month of April. A relentless winter that spilled into spring resulted in a later-than-average start to the golf season on P.E.I. with courses starting to trickle open near the end of April.

Golf P.E.I. reported non-member rounds of golf down more than 80 per cent in April from the same month last year.

Organizations: Tourism Advisory Council, Hotel Motel Association of Prince Edward Island

Geographic location: P.E.I., Charlottetown

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