'We're up about 15 per cent on our pre bookings': Tourism season off to a strong start

The 2017 tourism season in P.E.I. is already shaping up to be one of the best the province has ever seen.

Early numbers being reported by operators indicate bookings are up from last year, which saw a record number of tourists flock to the Island.

Karen Milligan, owner of the Inn at St. Peter's, spends much of her time on the phone taking reservations these days—lots of them.  

She said 2016 was her busiest in 17 years and this year is already ahead of that.  

"We're up about 15 per cent on our pre bookings," she explained. "One of the things I'm excited about is that June is tracking higher than what it was last year. That tends to be a bit slower month."

'Hesitant about travelling to the United States'

Operators like Milligan from across the province are reporting similar increases in bookings compared to 2016, when overnight stays reached a record number for the third year in a row in P.E.I.

She feels the U.S. political climate this year is helping numbers. 

"I've found over the last few years we've had more international travellers as well," she shared. " A lot of people are hesitant about travelling to the United States, particularly this year."

And it's not only accommodations that are seeing impressive increases in pre bookings.

Rounds of golf and packages are up 40 per cent compared to where they were this time last year, according to GOLF PEI.

While 2016 was big, this year is expected to be bigger -- especially with the Canada 150 celebrations. 

'They're budget conscious'

"A lot of it is actually based on the staycationers, they're staying in Canada, they're not going into the states because of the cost," said TIAPEI CEO Kevin Moufflier. "They're budget conscious and they want to come to the Maritimes they want to come to Prince Edward Island. We've seen a really strong increase from the Quebec and Ontario markets."

Economic Development and Tourism minister Heath MacDonald credited the strong bookings to date and successes of the past few years to the hard work of tourism operators across the province and industry associations that support them.

As important as summer tourism is for the province, the tourism association has still made the shoulder season one of it's top priorities and the early bookings are indicating it is working. 

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