The stats for July tourism came out Friday. Just like in June, P.E.I. numbers continue to bleed compared to last year and the minister can't blame the weather this time because July was perfect for visitors. Total room nights sold was down nearly 5 per cent in July which was the same for June.
Most coastal drives were from 3 to10 per cent. Visitors from Canada were down 3.4 per cent with Ontario leading the decline by 10 per cent. Across the USA, the overall decline was 8.4 per cent.
This represents millions of dollars in lost revenue, both to the tourist operators and the P.E.I. government. So, what went wrong? Most successful business people know that in order to make money you need to spend money. Last year the tourism sales tax brought in more than $45 million, which includes all the spinoffs from employee salaries and tourism visitor spending.
I am not sure why tourism gets second shrift from the P.E.I. government. We don't even have a designated tourism minister. This is strange because except for federal grants, tourism is by far the largest income generator the province has. There is no other single industry in P.E.I. that generates $45 million a year in direct sales tax revenue.
Not only do we need a full time experienced tourism minister but the P.E.I. government needs to get serious in marketing P.E.I. The province spends only $4 million a year in direct marketing.
Hopefully August stats will show an improvement.