On October 27th, the Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island (TIAPEI) launched a ten-week awareness campaign, NOW more than ever #tourismcounts, to educate Islanders of the harsh reality that PEI’s tourism industry is facing. As part of the campaign, TIAPEI is urging Islanders to pledge their support to PEI’s tourism industry so it can survive and continue to contribute to our province’s economy.

Closed borders, restrictions and reduced capacities due to COVID-19 have devastated Prince Edward Island’s tourism industry. Without an exact timeframe as to when restrictions will be lifted, and when business can start again in a meaningful way, many Island tourism businesses are vulnerable, concerned about their future, and some are facing permanent closure.

The necessary public health measures that we support as an industry have impacted tourism harder than any other industry. Restaurants, bars, attractions, hotels, shops, and other small businesses are all at severe economic risk right now and many will not survive the current crisis. The loss of these businesses will be devastating, not only for the owners and employees whose livelihood depends on them, but for our communities and Island economy.

“The tourism industry was the first to close and will be the last to recover. Prince Edward Island tourism expenditures are expected to be down 56%, with some of our hardest hit sectors down between 80-100%, says Corryn Clemence, CEO of TIAPEI. “The Prince Edward Island Tourism industry employs thousands of islanders. Due to the impacts of COVID-19 many of these jobs are at risk,” concludes Clemence.

Tourism contributes three times more to Prince Edward Island’s economy than in any other Canadian province, generating over 7% of GDP. Without visitors, this contribution to the Island’s economy will be drastically cut, impacting our Island way of life.

The reality for the Island’s tourism industry is grim. The Atlantic Bubble ensured that many businesses could and did try to open in 2020. Still, Atlantic Canadian guests tend to have shorter stays and spend less per visit than visitors from further away. The Island’s visitor economy is built to accommodate 1.5M visitors per year and the industry cannot survive on Atlantic Canadians alone.

Tourism operators know that the first step in rebuilding a thriving tourism industry is to continue our enviable public health record to date towards COVID-19. Tourism operators want to ensure that we reopen the economy safely, while preventing the virus’s spread, and demonstrated this during this past season. Tourism operators continue to work hard to ensure the safety of their guests, staff and the general public.

Prince Edward Island’s tourism industry needs your help so it can continue supporting Islanders. The tourism industry impacts the livelihood of our province. An investment in the Island’s tourism industry is a direct investment in Islanders.

For more information or to pledge your support visit www.tiapei.pe.ca and follow @tiapei on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.