There’s a feeling of optimism among tourism operators on P.E.I. as many are seeing a jump in bookings for the upcoming season.
Corryn Clemence, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I., said calls and emails have really picked up since the announcement of the government’s plan to ease out of COVID-19 restrictions.
“Bookings are stronger than they’ve been in years. We’re hearing a lot of optimism for a really strong season,” Clemence said.
She said she’s heard from some accommodations that are already fully booked for the summer season.
“This potentially could be one of the strongest years we’ve seen in a long time.”
Seeing new customers
Sandi Lowther owns Fairways Cottages in Cavendish and has been involved with various provincial and local tourism organizations for decades.
She said bookings are significantly up for them.
“We’re excited, we’re optimistic,” Lowther said.
Lowther said they are getting large golf groups, many who would typically go to the States but are now looking for Canadian destinations.
We just started getting a lot of phone calls and emails.— Sheila Arsenault, Treetop Haven
Reservation numbers are up 12 per cent from 2019.
She said if the borders stay open and isolation requirements are gone she expects a strong May through to October.
“We’re seeing a significant increase in large golf groups coming from Quebec, Ontario and west,” she said.
“Most of them are long haul, long-term stays.”
Lowther said people are transitioning to thinking about living with COVID-19, and want to travel.
“The demand is there,” she said.
Sheila Arsenault owns Treetop Haven in Mount Tryon, which gives people the opportunity to stay inside domes elevated in the treetops, as well as cabins.
Arsenault said she is seeing a lot more out-of-province bookings in the last couple of weeks.
“We just started getting a lot of phone calls and emails and the bookings for July, we’re almost fully booked, and August is getting close too,” she said.
‘It’s great, it’s really great.”
She said travel restrictions and limits on who you can be with have led to numerous cancellations over the last couple of years.
She said she had customers try for two years, but the timing never worked out.
Shortage of workers a concern
TIAPEI said many tourism attractions and accommodations have struggled to keep workers in P.E.I. and across Canada.
Hopefully we’re hitting the 2019 numbers and we’re rebounding quicker than anticipated.— Corryn Clemence, TIAPEI
“We’re hoping to see people at our job fairs,” said Clemence.
At Fairways cottages, Lowther is looking for cottage attendants, cleaners as well as office staff.
“The biggest concern as an industry, is our labour issues, that we’re going to be able to service the demand,” she said.
Hoping for no border restrictions
Clemence said P.E.I. is viewed as a safe destination with many outdoor attractions and safety protocols.
She said it will feel good to welcome people back without restrictions at the provincial border.
P.E.I. has been more cautious than some other provinces, with strict testing and at some points, self-isolation periods for people who travel to the Island from other provinces. Currently, travellers need to test twice and isolate for four days when arriving to P.E.I. That restriction is due to be lifted this week, but testing requirements will remain.
The final easing stage of provincial restrictions is currently set for April 7 and is expected to include an end to many public health measures, such as the P.E.I. Vax Pass, mandatory masking, gathering limits and testing at points of entry.
“Hopefully we’re hitting the 2019 numbers and we’re rebounding quicker than anticipated,” Clemence said.