The PEI Hospitality Industry is increasingly confident that this year’s summer season will be much better for tourism than the previous one.
Some business owners are ramping up operations ahead of key summer months as COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease under the province’s three-step plan.
The timing is much-needed relief for the tourism industry, which saw revenues drop from $387 million in 2019 to $283 million last year.
“Really talking to operators, there seems to be a sense of optimism that … we could reach 2019 levels in our region,” said Adam MacLennan, executive director of the North Cape Coastal Tourism Area Partnership.
“Hopefully we’re about to come out and move forward, and that our season and our industry come back stronger than ever.”
Due to these expectations, tour operators are stepping up their efforts to attract visitors to the island.
The province will spend $5 million on marketing initiatives this year, an increase of $1 million from previous years.
Advertising campaigns will target traditional Island markets in the Maritimes, Quebec and Ontario, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta.
“We’re moving forward and saying the marketing plan is moving forward because all the signs are there that we’re going to have a fabulous season,” said Brenda Gallant, Tourism PEI’s Director of Marketing. .-E.
“However, we know we have to be ready to step down if that’s what happens.”
At Discover Charlottetown, the marketing ramp-up also continues. But executive director Heidi Zinn said this year’s campaigns will reflect “cautious optimism”.
“We’re releasing our travel guide right now,” she said. “[There] you’ll find things we say like, “Hey folks, we’re hoping for the best this year but we don’t really know what it’s going to be like, so be sure to check the website to make sure this event is going from the front.'”
Restaurants are looking to expand
The restaurant industry is also preparing for a resurgence in activity. Some companies are even looking to expand.
Jared Murphy, co-owner of Lone Oak Brewing Co. in Borden-Carleton, said communications from the Chief Public Health Office as well as trends around the world give him confidence that the pandemic situation on the island is now under control.
“Obviously, we’re not the only ones feeling optimistic and hopeful, as I believe there are four to five restaurants opening in the Charlottetown area this spring,” he said.
Murphy, who opened the first location in Lone Oak just months before the pandemic hit, is now working to prepare a second location at Charlottetown’s Creamery Boardwalk for the spring, counting on a strong summer.
“Our timing is going to be a little better than our first opening now that we can see the end of this pandemic and hopefully bring tourists back to PEI,” he said. .
“It’s been ups and downs… [the hope is] that if we can survive a pandemic, hopefully things look good.”