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Tourism weakening in July after strong start to season, says TIAPEI | CBC News


The Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. is looking for answers amid reports July business on the Island hasn’t been as strong as hoped.

The season got off to a good start in May and June driven by meetings and conventions that had been delayed in pandemic years, TIAPEI CEO Corryn Clemence said.

A report on May restaurant sales released Wednesday showed a 15 per cent increase in sales compared to last year.

But after reports business softened in July, TIAPEI launched a survey of its members to get a better sense of how the year was going.

“It’s a bit surprising to us. We’re getting a bit of a mixed bag,” Clemence said.”Some are on par, some are ahead of 2019 — we’re still using that as a bit of a benchmark — and some are behind.

“We’re trying to get a sense of who, why and where those things are happening.”

A vehicle drives onto a ramp leading to the open nose cone of the passenger ferry Confederation.
MV Confederation at Wood Islands. Problems with the ferry have hit Kings County hard, TIAPEI says. (Submitted by Susan Brown)

In particular, last-minute bookings look like they’re down. International travellers seem to be coming back, but regional tourism appears to have dropped, Clemence said.

That has a big impact, because about 60 per cent of the Island’s tourism market is from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. 

Problems with the ferry — with almost no service from June 17 to July 10 — hit Kings County hard, Clemence said. There have been flight cancellations, and the weather may be a factor: It rained two out of the four weekends in July.

“And inflation, of course. That really seems to be the big thing coming back [from the survey], is really the cost of travel,” Clemence said.

“If they are travelling, maybe they are doing less than they have in the past.”

Wildfires, flooding had impact

Added to all of that were back-to-back natural disasters in Nova Scotia, with wildfires in June and flooding in July.

“Seeing all the devastation in Nova Scotia this year … will definitely have an impact on those travellers coming over here, and understandably so,” Clemence said.

For Paul Trainor, president of the Atlantic Business Federation, inflation is the key culprit.

Paul Trainor in office
Weekend vacations are one of the first things to go when financial resources are tight, says Paul Trainor. (CBC)

“People are cutting back on travelling, unfortunately — especially for Prince Edward Island, because that’s a big part of our economy — because of the expenses at home,” Trainor said.

“The weekend vacations are the easiest things to cut.”

Despite the slowdown in July, Clemence said the survey also showed there is still optimism for the season, with operators hopeful of a rebound in August.


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