SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – While a par-for-the-course tourism season is welcome news, ever wonder what factors make up the numbers in the provincial government’s monthly tourism indicators?
“The monthly indicator reports are a collection of various traffic numbers that, when combined together, helps us paint a picture of what is happening,” said Tourism P.E.I. CEO Cheryl Paynter.
For starters, Tourism P.E.I. requires a 95 per cent response rate from tourism accommodation providers and entry point locations.
Also, in order to operate a short-term accommodation in P.E.I., a provider must be licensed by the province. Part of that licence stipulates reporting to Tourism P.E.I. on a monthly basis, describing the occupancy and origin of the traffic.
The number of rooms sold are then compiled into the indicator report for occupancy.
They are not a guess, “they are an actual compilation,” Paynter said.
This includes accommodations available through platforms like Airbnb, fixed-roof establishments and campgrounds.
“Airbnb is a marketing platform, not a type of accommodation. So, if you hop onto the platform, you’ll find hotels, cottages, bed and breakfasts and then the image that people seem to have in their mind of an apartment in a residential neighbourhood. So, any short-term accommodations for revenue must be licensed,” said Paynter.
As for traffic numbers, “Partially because we are an Island, you don’t get off or you don’t get on without us knowing about it.”
There are four main points of entry: the Confederation Bridge, airplane, motor vehicle or ferries. But the tourism indicator reports also take into consideration traffic from cruise ships coming to and from Charlottetown.
“These are actual traffic numbers. And they are a mix of Islanders to and fro and the off-Island visitation that we draw in.”
The Confederation Bridge brings the most traffic to the Island by far.
Through an agreement with the entry point providers, Tourism P.E.I. is given information about the origin of the traffic.
“As far as the visitor information centres go, those systems are ticker based (and) keep track real-time if people come into the centre,” said Paynter. “Parks Canada have tickers as well as P.E.I. Heritage sites.”
In addition to the monthly numbers, there is also a bi-weekly industry update call with representatives from the airport and accommodation reports to get a feel of what the temperature of the business weeks were and what they could look like in the future.
Last year marked the fourth record-breaking year for tourism, including the milestone of exceeding one million overnight stays on P.E.I.
“We’re now into year five and we are plus/minus on par to traffic numbers,” said Paynter. “I don’t know if it will be record-breaking, but the numbers are (showing) tourism is a growing industry on P.E.I.”