The PEI Tourism Association is delighted with the provincial government’s new program to support tourist accommodation, but said it will not be enough to keep tourism businesses afloat this summer.

The program, designed to assist these businesses during another summer of travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, offers a $ 100 Canadian Food Island Gift Card for every two day stay at qualifying property.

“The beauty of this program is that it will entice people to book rooms and come and stay, and islanders, perhaps, to stay in many of our properties across the island,” said Corryn Clemence, CEO of TIAPEI.

“The lodging sector in particular has been devastated during this pandemic. And this is a program that will definitely help, but it will not be the solution.”

Corryn Clemence, CEO of TIAPEI, says the gift card program will create great spin-off benefits for many companies. (Brian Higgins / CBC)

For a better tourist season on PEI, the borders would have to open to tourists earlier, said Clemence.

PEI’s reopening plan provides that tourists from outside the Atlantic region will be allowed to visit without isolating in September after the main tourist season when they are fully vaccinated. Unless the launch of the vaccine on the island accelerates significantly.

“It is really difficult for an industry that welcomed almost 1.6 million visitors in 2019 to really be withdrawn into the Atlantic bubble,” said Clemence, looking ahead to summer 2020.

“We still have challenges, you know. The magic solution to that is to open the borders.”

John Cudmore is the President of the Hotel Association of PEI. He says the islanders were big supporters of hotels in Charlottetown over the winter. (John Robertson / CBC)

The PEI Hotel Association president said the program will help its members by getting “heads in beds”.

“It’s a great opportunity to get into a hotel and get your little extras paid for, be it the Confederation Center Theater, restaurants or the water parks,” said John Cudmore, who also runs the Holman Grand Hotel in downtown Charlottetown .

“We give them [gift] Issuing cards on arrival, we encourage our guests to get out and spread out in the PEI. “

Multiple company support

The program offers a maximum of five gift cards for a stay of 10 nights.

PEI Tourism Minister Matthew MacKay said that by offering the gift cards, the province can support other Prince Edward Island businesses with the same program.

“With these gift cards, it will help the retail sector,” he said.

“We have registered numerous restaurants. There are also attractions, golf courses and deep-sea fishing there.”

Nearly 300 companies have signed up to allow customers to use the gift cards, he said.

The Staycation Incentive Program runs from June 15 to July 31. The gift cards themselves have no expiration date.

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