Anne of Green Gables just keeps paying off for Prince Edward Island’s tourism industry.
Tourism P.E.I. unveiled its strategy for next year when the Island celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference, where the Fathers of Confederation began a series of meetings that led to the creation of Canada.
One of the highlights of the plan focuses on the NHK network, Japan’s public broadcaster, which will produce a 156-episode series about Hanako Muraoka, the late scholar and translator of children’s literature. She became semi-famous in Japan for her translation of the novels Anne of Green Gables and The Christmas Carol during the Second World War.
The 15-minute daily drama has an audience of approximately 60 million people. When the Japanese crew visited P.E.I. to see where author Lucy Maud Montgomery grew up they liked what they saw so much that they’ve chosen to air 90 seconds of P.E.I. scenery at the beginning of all 156 episodes. The series begins March 31 and runs through Sept. 9.
“We’re very thrilled with that because of the enlarged viewership and popularity of the show,’’ said Brenda Gallant, director of marketing and communications for Tourism P.E.I. “A great opportunity has presented itself this year. Even though the biography for us focused on the life of Hanako it really does have a strong emphasis on Prince Edward Island because (Anne of Green Gables) was her passion.’’
The provincial government normally spends $4 million on off-Island tourism advertising but will increase that budget by 25 per cent in 2014 for a total of $5.2 million. The province did bring a producer and film crew in to do research for the Hanako to Anne series.
“We see the linkages there,’’ said Tourism Minister Robert Henderson. “Anne has always been a core pillar here on Prince Edward Island and it will always continue in that regard but it’s about fostering and growing it in a little bit more creative fashion.’’
The tourism strategy will continue to focus on traditional markets in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. A strong emphasis will be placed on things like large billboard ads and bus wraps in cities like Montreal and Toronto. It will also continue to focus on media relations so that stories about the province appear in highly circulated print publications and on television. There will also be significant investment in online advertising.
There will also be a mini Celebration Zone that will travel to larger centres in an effort to entice visitors first-hand. It will mirror the Celebration Zone that will occupy Confederation Landing Park in the summer.
Gallant said the province is also making strategic purchases on specialty TV channels like The Food Network and History Channel. Viewers will see specific vignettes on Island food and history. Advertising will also be placed in the Globe and Mail and in Maritime dailies.
The message is — “Come to the Island — Stay for the Party,” meaning there is much more to do next year than just golf, go to the beach and eat lobster. There will be a total of 150 festivals and events to take in as well, 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.
“I thought the marketing campaign (features) a very patriotic theme,’’ Henderson says, referring to the ‘Come to the Island’ slogan. “I think that’s going to attract more visitors to the Island to learn more about culture and history. As the saying goes, come for whatever your reasons but come for the party.’’