P.E.I. tourism poised for strong year

CHARLOTTETOWN—Prince Edward Island’s hospitality operators are looking both to the past and future in its tourism strategy for 2014.

CHARLOTTETOWN—Prince
Edward Island’s hospitality operators are looking both to the past and future
in its tourism strategy for 2014.

At the Tourism
Industry Association of Prince Edward Island’s 2013 annual general meeting on
Nov. 29 at the Confederation Centre for the Arts, topics included industry
growth, complacency, occupational shortages, P.E.I. labour market changes and
quality service.

While forecast
growth (locally and nationally) over the past five years has not materialized
and substantial growth isn’t forecast for the next few years, 2014 marks the
150th anniversary of the meeting of the Fathers of Confederation. A
yearlong and province-wide tribute is planned to mark the Charlottetown
Conference and the home of confederation.

Kevin Mouflier, TIAPEI president.

Kevin Mouflier, TIAPEI president.

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At the AGM,
Slemon Park Hotel manager Kevin Mouflier was elected TIAPEI president. Other
changes to the board of directors include Robert Jourdain taking up the
position of vice-president and Rachel Vidito and Robert Jay joining as members at
large.

Mouflier has 31
years of industry experience. He has been involved with TIAPEI for a decade and
moved to P.E.I. in 2000.

Mouflier told CLN that 2014 will be an exciting year
from a marketing perspective and looks to be shaping up as a strong year with
increase in conference business following the opening of the Prince Edward
Island Convention Centre in the summer.

“PEI,
as a whole has been pretty flat over the last eight years, so we’re looking
forward to seeing a growth and particularly with 2014, there are a lot of
scheduled events taking place throughout the year,” he said.

The island’s
total growth in visitation over eight years saw an increase of 18,445 visitors,
a growth of 1.5 per cent.

TIAPEI presentations
also predicted increased cruise ship traffic with two larger capacity vessels
to visit in 2014. 

Culinary tourism
in 2013 tourism saw a boost and TIAPEI deemed Fall Flavours Festival a success
with a 16 per cent increase in ticket sales and about half of attendees coming
from out of province.

“One
of the big things I want to focus on is the importance on servicing our
customers and growing visitation,” said Mouflier.

The
association is bringing World Host training, launched during the winter Olympics
in Vancouver, to island operators as a full day of training available to tourism
operators for a cost of $20. 

“We
want to leave that impression that people want to come back and the want to
tell other people how good the service was here,” he said.

In
March, a strategic planning session in Summerside brought together more than 30
operators from all facets of the industry.

With
provincial marketing funding being reduced annually by about two per cent, a
task force was established and sub-committees were formed to develop a plan for
industry-led tourism dollars, prepared and economic impact business case for
tourism, establish a leadership structure and prepare a three-year strategy and
board structure review of TIAPEI.

Mouflier said launching
the tourism strategy in November rather this year (and in future years) as
opposed to March will really make a difference giving operators a chance for
advanced preparation.

“We’ve
really got to focus on increased visitation,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to
be done.”