Come to P.E.I., stay for party an apt theme

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Province prepares for yearlong 150th celebrations; essential component of tourism campaign for 2014

TIAPEI

When delegates from the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. gathered Friday in Charlottetown, their minds were largely focused on history. They might have felt a little like the Fathers of Confederation some 150 years ago who were about to make plans to come to Charlottetown and start the serious task of nation building.

The TIAPEI delegates in the city three days ago were more concerned of how to ensure the commemoration of one of the most important events in Canada’s history is turned into a successful tourism campaign for P.E.I. for the coming year.

Much of P.E.I.’s tourism marketing plans for 2014 have already been announced over the past number of months. The launch held Friday in Charlottetown was a bit anti-climatic but it did reinforce that our sesquicentennial celebrations will certainly dominate the tourism agenda for all of next year.

And rightfully so.

It makes perfect sense to cash in on this historic year which arrives in less than a month. The efforts of P.E.I. 2014 Inc. throughout much of the past 12 months have laid out a series of special events, festivals and celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown conference which led to Confederation.

A strong agenda has been long established to draw the attention of tourists and visitors to get this province on their vacation and travel schedule for next year.

It was no surprise when Tourism Minister Robert Henderson blessed this marriage of all tourism industry stakeholders Friday as they work together to ensure Prince Edward Island is the place to be next year.

Anne of Green Gables keeps paying huge dividends for the province’s tourism industry and 2014 will be bigger and better than ever for our red-haired orphan. This coming summer will mark the 50th consecutive year for staging the historic musical on the main stage of Confederation Centre.

Another highlight focuses on Japan’s public broadcaster which will produce a 156-episode series about Hanako Muraoka, the late scholar and translator of children’s literature who became famous in Japan for her translation of the novel Anne of Green Gables. It caused a sensation and made the land of Anne a must-pilgrimage for Japanese visitors for many years. The province is anticipating a renewed influx of Japanese visitors in 2014 as the result of this television production.

Advertising is essential to any campaign because no one will come to our party if they don’t know about it. The provincial government normally spends $4 million on off-Island tourism advertising but that will increase by 25 per cent in 2014 to $5.2 million. The campaign will see a continued focus on traditional markets in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime Provinces and will continue to focus on media relations so that stories about P.E.I. will appear in highly circulated print publications and on television.

The theme of 2014 is  Come to the Island — Stay for the Party, meaning there is plenty to do next year other than golf, go to the beach, see Anne the musical and eat lobster. There will be a total of 150 festivals and events to take in, including an expanded Canada Day and major concert in Charlottetown in late August, as well as a festival in late August celebrating the Fathers of Confederation.

It’s almost time for Charlottetown and the province to take centre stage for the yearlong party in 2014. This could be viewed as a full dress rehearsal for Canada’s own sesquicentennial celebrations in 2017, so let’s show the rest of the country how it’s done.

Organizations: Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I., Confederation Centre

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Canada, Prince Edward Island Japan Green Gables Ontario Quebec Maritime Provinces

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