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P.E.I. tourism, cultural operators support suspending Atlantic bubble

Juanita Morrison organizes the brochures at the visitor centre located at Sydney harbour. The centre is operated by the Port of Sydney and hasn’t been as busy as past years due to the cancellation of the cruise season because of COVID-19 virus. However, Morrison said they are still seeing many visitors from inside the Atlantic bubble, including many people who have not visited this area before. The visitor centre is open seven days a week from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. GREG MCNEIL/CAPE BRETON POST
Juanita Morrison organizes the brochures at a visitor centre in Sydney, N.S. in this Cape Breton Post file photo. - Greg Mcneil

For staff in P.E.I.’s tourism and cultural sectors, news of the reimposition of travel restrictions after a summer of bubbling did not come as a huge surprise.

Corryn Clemence, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. said Monday’s news of the two-week freeze of the Atlantic Bubble had been predicted for local operators.

"It's one of those disappointing setbacks. But in the name of health and wellbeing, we certainly understand," Clemence said.

Corryn Clemence of the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. said the two-week pause of the Atlantic Bubble could be costly for some hotels. But she said she supported the measure. - Dave Stewart
Corryn Clemence of the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. said the two-week pause of the Atlantic Bubble could be costly for some hotels. But she said she supported the measure. - Dave Stewart


Tourism operators were thrown somewhat of a lifeline during the summer months with the introduction of the Atlantic Travel Bubble. But the number of visitors was a fraction of what has been seen in recent years.

Although overnight stays of tourists are certainly lower than in winter months, travel for family visits and sports tournaments still does bring much-needed revenue to local hotels and restaurants.

“We see thousands of room nights through the winter months from sport tourism and those tournaments. So that will certainly be a hit to them," Clemence said.

But Clemence said the low counts of COVID-19 cases in P.E.I. are fundamentally good for business.

"We have the luxury of still being operational where we're starting to see some shut-downs elsewhere," Clemence said.

"The silver lining in all of it is that Islanders can still get out and enjoy everything that our operators have to offer and we're not in a lock-down. And I think our operators have done a good job to adjust to the safety measures."

Clemence’s comments were echoed by the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce.

In a media statement issued on Monday, Chamber CEO Penny Walsh-McGuire said she was supportive of the decision to impose mandatory 14-day self-isolation for Atlantic travellers entering P.E.I. for at least the next two weeks.

“This temporary closure of the PEI border is a layer of precaution that will allow our business community to continue to operate and to avoid entering the full lockdown situations we see in other parts of Canada,” Walsh-McGuire said in a statement.

“The Chamber encourages Islanders to continue to support local businesses and feel confident and safe to shop in their community.”

During a media briefing earlier in the day, Chief Public Health Officer Heather Morrison said local retailers and restaurants have put in place operational plans to reduce the possibilities of transmission of the virus.

She said the new travel restrictions over the coming weeks can allow Islanders to shop locally in a safe manner.

“This is our hope that we can maintain things as best we can within this Province,” Morrison said.

Morrison also warned Islanders to keep their social circles small and to wear masks in indoor public settings.

Rob Oakie, executive director of Music P.E.I., also reacted with resignation to the news of the new travel restrictions. He said he understood and supported the reasons behind the measures. But he said the restrictions on travel have taken a further bite out of the livelihoods of touring musicians.

"It definitely has a negative impact. But you gotta do what you gotta do," Oakie said.

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