With the end of the peak tourism season in Prince Edward Island less than a week away, tourism operators say it’s been a mixed bag.
That’s a disappointment for many in the tourist industry after a huge jump last year.
A little rain didn’t stop thousands of tourists from wandering down town Charlottetown Wednesday. There were three cruise ships in the harbour, making for a busy day for tourism operators.
This is one of the last big days before the end of the peak summer season, traditionally considered to end after the Labour Day weekend.
However operators have noticed it’s not like last year.
“This has been a strange year. I think most people would say the same,” said Coady Campbell, owner-operator of Water Prince Corner Shop. “It’s been a good year. Business is good. We’re not seeing the same volume of people we normally would. We’d often have a lineup on the corner.”
Campbell said they sometimes have to turn people away because there are simply more customers than they can serve, but that hasn’t been the case this year.
It’s not clear what’s causing this year to feel down, but with inflationary pressures, a high cost of fuel, inconsistent ferry service, and natural disasters impacting our region, important local tourist travel has been affected.
It’s particularly disappointing for some after a banner year last year.
“This year it’s a mixed bag,” said Corryn Clemence, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. “We have a third of our operators that are probably on par with 2019, third above and a third below, so it’s been really difficult for us to put our finger on how, where, and why.”
Clemence said visitor expectations have changed since the pandemic, with tourists looking for more and more memorable and unique experiences, and the industry is still adapting to that.
She said they’re expecting the rest of the fall season to follow a similar trend as they’ve seen so far this year.
While it might not look like it today, the industry on P.E.I. is still recovering from the devastating damage the COVID-19 pandemic did to tourism. The final numbers aren’t out yet, but they’re expected to paint a picture much closer before that event than in the last year.
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