Prince Edward Island is inching closer to its goal of surpassing one million overnight visits this year.
The P.E.I. government released projected tourism numbers for 2017 with 1.02 million overnight stays, 1.56 million visits and $447 million in expenditures.
There have been 984,000 overnight visits on P.E.I. by the end of October. If the average 23,000 overnight visits for November is factored in, the province may have already met its goal of one million, says Chris Jones, director of strategic initiatives for the Department of Economic Development and Tourism.
“We could be there now. But what we’re projecting, if we took last year’s figure of November and December, without any increase or any decrease, just took performance last year, and put it on where we are right now – the 984,000 – that’s what we’re projecting (it) will be. So, we don’t have November numbers, and here we are three weeks into it, we could be there already.”
Jones presented the province’s tourism numbers on Thursday at the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. conference at the Prince Edward Delta.
The 1,024,051 million projected overnight stays in 2017 would be an increase from 962,945 last year, while the projected 1.56 million visits would also be an increase from 1.48 million. And, the projected tourism expenditures of $447 million would be an increase from $433 in 2016.
“Those are real robust numbers,” Jones said.
By the end of September, there were 938,277 overnight stays in roofed accommodations and campgrounds on the Island.
Heath MacDonald, minister of economic development and tourism, said the overnight stay numbers were exciting, especially given the size of the province.
“But, we can’t become complacent and we have to keep pushing forward and find new and interesting ways to attract tourists to P.E.I.,” he added.
Kevin Mouflier, CEO of the tourism industry association, was also pleased with the tourism industry’s growth over the past four years.
“People are engaged. People are working together. We’re seeing successes and will continue to see successes into the future.”
Mouflier also noted some challenges facing the industry.
With respect to the shortage of labour, he said more funding for training is needed as well as having more people view tourism as a career.
Another challenge is the minimum wage increase to $11.55 on April 1. Mouflier said he wants to see more notice given to the industry when the minimum wage is increased. But instead of raising the minimum wage, he would also like to see the basic personal income tax exemption raised.
“That will put more money in the worker’s pocket because if you continue to raise the minimum wage, for one, you have to put your prices up – that doesn’t make the consumer happy. Also, the worker is not necessarily seeing more money in their pocket because they may fall into a different tax bracket.”
TIAPEI Award winners
The Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island presented its 36th annual tourism awards gala at the Delta Prince Edward Wednesday night, where a total of 10 businesses were honoured for their contributions to tourism in 2017.
- Jay and Carol Macdonald- Lieutenant Governor’s Tourism Award
- Scott Smith, West Point Lighthouse – Hospitality Award for Prince County;
- Paul Doiron, Aiden’s Deep Sea Fishing – Hospitality Award for Queens County;
- Roger and Sheila Soloman, DeRoma Cottages– Hospitality Award for Kings County;
- Kim Doyle, Whitecap Entertainment – Walt Wheeler Media Award;
- BridgeFest 150, Strait Crossing Bridge Ltd. – Operator of the Year;
- Lennox Island Mi’kmaq Cultural Centre – Parks Canada Sustainable Tourism Award;
- Murray MacPherson, Brackley Beach North Winds Inn– Dr. Kent Ellis Quality of Excellence Award;
- Greg Weeks, P.E.I. Segway Tours – President’s Award;
- The late Erskine Smith and Pat Studen Smith, Victoria Playhouse – Premier’s Award