The PE.The government’s tourism marketing plan for 2020, released in late February, had an interesting strategy – let’s attract more visitors from Alberta

This tourism PE.The idea followed an earlier announcement by Charlottetown Airport that WestJet would be offering a direct flight between Charlottetown and Calgary in the summer in what was expected to be a record tourism year on the island

“It seems like a lifetime ago,” said Corryn Clemence, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of PE.I’m thinking about the February tourism marketing announcement

About three weeks after the marketing plan was published, COVID-19 changed everything

On 18 March has the PE.i The government closed all non-essential services and businesses, including shopping malls

Catering bars and restaurants closed down dining rooms and relied on roadside pick-up and drop-off to keep money flowing

These drastic measures, and their impact on island businesses and everyday citizens, are why the COVID-19 fallout is the Guardian’s news story for 2020

“There is no question that COVID-19 has affected the lives of everyone around the world, including all islanders,” said Jocelyne Lloyd, Guardian’s Managing Editor. “We made a decision to focus on tourism businesses in PEAs the sharp drop in visitor numbers this summer not only had economic ramifications that we are likely to feel in the years to come, it has also changed the entire character of the island for the months we are used to seeing this additional population Having our beaches and restaurants, summer jobs for students, extra income for the rest of us, and some real excitement on our streets and boardwalks ”

Clemence says companies in the tourism sector should get a lot of credit for adapting, innovating and making some tough decisions in 2020 such as: B. the decision to work at reduced capacity or in some other way

“In a few moments I hear the despair and concern of our staff and it is heartbreaking not to have answers for them and not to know when things will change for the better. And in the next breath I am so excited about the ingenuity, creativity and passion that so many of our operators have for the business they are in, “she said

Company on PE.I experienced a year of limitations, a three month shutdown that started in March and a newer temporary “breaker” in December

Many companies have estimated a decline in sales of 40 to 60 percent compared to the previous year

Aside from the restrictions, another common obstacle cited by business owners is the impact of more people working from home and less foot traffic in businesses, especially in places like Charlottetown and Summerside

To get through, island companies have drawn on government programs such as the federal government’s wage, rental and loan programs, and companies have also supported and bought more islanders in 2020

Tara Maddix, executive director of the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce, recently told the SaltWire Network that a common concern among business owners is the future of finance

One thing that has impressed Maddix is ​​the way companies have worked, panned, and found ways to stay open and keep people busy rather than opting to shut down during these challenging times

“I have to credit them for the effort they put into their physical spaces to make sure customers are safe and confident and to go in there and really just roll around with it every day because it’s easy to give up”, she said

COVID-19 was significant to the tourism industry, which at one point had an estimated $ 447 million annual economic impact. In 2019, 87 cruise lines sailed 128000 passengers and 55000 crew members to Charlottetown

Travel restrictions, including the non-essential travel ban in PE.Early on, he helped reduce traffic over the Confederation Bridge by more than 90 percent in April, May and June

With the opening of the Atlantic travel bubble on 3 July also shifted the tourist focus to stays and was expanded to the neighboring New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland

The Atlantic Bubble also improved bridge traffic, although it was still 60 percent lower in July from 2019 and 49 percent in August

The number of accommodations and overnight stays sold fell by more than 82 percent from April to June, but also improved with the Atlantic bubble

The same is not true for air travel, which has declined more than 90 percent since March and saw a 97 percent decrease at Charlottetown Airport in May

Due to COVID-19, the airport has seen flight cancellations from major airlines Most recently, the suspension of a major Air Canada direct flight between Charlottetown and Toronto was scheduled to begin on January 11

“For most (tourism) companies it was kind of a roller coaster ride,” said Clemence in an interview in December

“We initially focused on a record year, probably from all industries. We had new flights

We were preparing for a record-breaking cruise season, everything seemed fine and then of course COVID hit in March and that seems to have made some drastic changes overall “

Going forward, Clemence said the tourism industry needed to better communicate with each other and with islanders about the role they play in the success of tourism

She also said tourism companies must continue to be flexible and open to professional development opportunities and training to improve their business

After about nine months of dealing with COVID-19, Clemence said many tourism companies are still grappling with the unknown as they near the 2021 tourism season

As of Jan 1, the Atlantic Bubble remains suspended and COVID-19 cases remain a problem in the US. and across Canada, including provinces such as Ontario and Quebec, which are two major sources of tourist traffic for the island each year

“Are we going to be open to the rest of Atlantic Canada? Are we going to be island only again? Open to the rest of Canada? It is difficult for most operators to plan accordingly and budget these business plans for the next season and create with so many unknowns, “she said

“I think we as an industry association can work with operators going forward to make sure they are prepared for whatever is coming”

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Source: https://www.saltwire.com/news/local/news-story-of-the-year-covid-19-brought-anxiety-and-inspiration-to-pei-in-2020-536308