Delegate vs. tourist?

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Tourism Minister Robert Henderson says visitors are increasingly turning to computers and mobile devices to get information about Prince Edward Island rather than ordering a copy of the annual Visitor Guide.

Visitation numbers skyrocket in cool April; conventions, awards push numbers upward

When is a delegate transformed into a tourist? And vice versa. Is there really a difference between the two categories? The provincial department of tourism is not differentiating between them, making the argument that anyone visiting the province is a tourist. It makes those all-so-important tourism numbers look even better. So what if we take a little poetic justice with the semantics of the category?

A definition of a tourist could be anyone who comes to P.E.I. to spend a holiday doing whatever interests them – golf, theatre, beaches, food, historical attractions or scenery. They decided to come on their own, picked their own dates and are here on their own time. It’s a holiday with no pressure about deadlines or work, and the only worry is that the weather co-operates.

A delegate could be defined as a person selected or requested to come here to attend a convention, conference or meeting on their company’s business or as a volunteer member of a for-profit or non-profit group. They come here primarily to fulfill their duties as a delegate but also to enjoy the side benefits of what P.E.I. has to offer whenever the opportunity arises.

Last month, despite as miserable an April in relation to weather as we’ve seen in years, there was a large increase in what our government labeled ‘tourists.’ Well, the heading on a press release said tourists but the copy quickly moved on to discuss visitors and visitations and delegates.

 The first to greet the good news was Tourism and Culture Minister Robert Henderson, who said that many more people than usual came to meet and do business in P.E.I. last month. The number of delegates who attended meetings on the Island approached 1,500, an increase of 300 per cent.

John Anthony Langdale, chair of the Tourism Advisory Council, welcomed the increase as very encouraging. He said that meetings and conventions are key pillars of the province’s tourism strategy and all signs point to a banner year. Much of the credit is going to the new convention centre, which opened in 2013 with the hope of drawing more and larger conventions.

People flocked to P.E.I. in April despite the unseasonable chilly weather because of the East Coast Music Week events and awards, the major international curling cashspiel in Summerside, sports tournaments and other smaller but important meetings and conventions.

May has been almost as miserable in terms of weather. Golf courses barely managed to open and rounds played plummeted 80 per cent. But again, conventions are playing a major role, such as this week’s Newspapers Canada annual conference in Charlottetown and a national forum on economic immigration in Brudenell.

We are getting the bump because of the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference, resulting in last week’s royal visit of Prince Charles and Lady Camilla, which drew many visitors as well.

Tourism industry officials are also excited because of the large increase in reservations and web traffic, providing plenty of reason to be optimistic about the rest of the 2014 tourism season. The usual barometers are all positive. 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. Members of the hotel motel association are reporting increases of between 15 and 20 per cent in terms of pre-bookings compared to this time last year.

Tourist or delegate, they all spend money on accommodations, food, shopping, gas, etc. Hopefully they have a great time and take home positive impressions to tell their friends and neighbours. Whatever category we call them — delegate or tourist — they are most welcome. And please come again.

Organizations: Tourism Advisory Council, Newspapers Canada

Geographic location: P.E.I., Charlottetown, Summerside

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Recent comments

  • Garth Staples
    May 28, 2014 - 20:26

    In 1982 a decision was made to convert Tourist Information Centres (TICs) to Visitor Information Centres(VICs) because the Dept and the Industry was 'fighting' the general public's negative attitude towards tourists. The theory was that Islanders would treat visitors to their province/homes differently from tourists. Therefore all visitors are tourists. Now we are still arguing! The problem after the bridge opened the Ghiz Govt and Tourism Industry had not properly prepared for the influx. How negligent. Garth Staples, former Deputy Minister.

  • Knows Better
    May 28, 2014 - 19:49

    LMAO........I hope these fools have a plan for next season when the numbers drop about 20%. Tourism on PEI has seen a steady decline since the Confederation Bridge was built and now they are going to have a year that still wont bring as many visitors to PEI as we had 15 years ago and they are blowing it all out of proportion. They will probably start counting the people flying over PEI as visitors next year. LMAO.

    • True
      May 29, 2014 - 06:20

      True. All I have heard from visitors I meet, or people I know who have been here the last 15 years or so, is it is so very expensive here, & the craft stores selling souvenirs way way overcharge for stuff - most of which is made elsewhere. Tourist counting is at the point if anyone even inquires about the island, they are included as having visited.

  • The Observer from Stratford
    May 28, 2014 - 13:19

    Sorry but there are differences between a delegate and a bonafide tourist. These differences do impact the tourism industry. Hotels - The tourist uses hotels and other accommodations all over the province. Many operators benefit. The delegate usually stays as close to the convention as possible and often stays at the convention's single official hotel which usually is run by a large full service hotel chain. Meals - Most conventions include some meals especially lunches but dinners are often part of the package. Minimal business for local restaurants and even less for eateries out of town. Attractions - The tourist is out sightseeing every day. The delegate might get in the equivalent of one full day's sightseeing while here for a four-five day convention. Also the tourist has nothing but free time while the delegate's time is mostly in the evening and is likely to favour establishments close to the convention site. If I were a tourist business operator located anywhere but near the convention venue I wouldn't see much value to me in the delegate visiting PEI. I'd sooner have the tourist. The latter would be potentially more lucrative to me.