The head of Greater Moncton's Chamber of Commerce regrets that Prince Edward Island's premier is urging Islanders not to make the region part of their holiday shopping plans.
During a public health briefing Tuesday, P.E.I. Premier Dennis King strongly advised against unnecessary off-Island travel as COVID-19 cases soar in many parts of Canada.
"You don't need to go Christmas shopping in Moncton," he said. "We have tremendous stores here on P.E.I."
"It's a bit of a hit, I would say, for our local retailers to hear that," John Wishart, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton, told CBC News on Wednesday.
"I doubt that Island tourism operators would like to hear the New Brunswick premier saying, you know, 'Don't go to P.E.I. next summer, stay at home.' Because there is an impact on both our economies."
Wishart was interviewed by CBC Prince Edward Island a few hours before the latest public health briefing in New Brunswick confirmed nine more COVID-19 cases in the province.
Five of the new cases were diagnosed in the Moncton region; two were in the Saint John region; and there was one case each in the Fredericton and Bathurst regions.
Wishart told CBC News he'd like to think that the two provinces "can continue the kind of cross-border commerce that has been a staple of their relationship for decades, if not centuries."
He noted that every weekend in November and December, a large proportion of the cars and trucks parked outside the Champlain Place shopping mall have Island plates.
We really do need the free flow of people to sustain the economy in a region like Atlantic Canada, where we don't have millions of people to rely on. — John Wishart, Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce
"As long as we all continue to take the precautions laid out by public health in both our provinces, we can keep people safe and still help the economy," Wishart said.
"I think all business operators agree keeping people safe is paramount."
Wishart expects the issue of maintaining shoppers' access to businesses in other Maritime provinces in the coming months will be discussed further through the Atlantic Provinces Chamber of Commerce.
"We really do need the free flow of people to sustain the economy in a region like Atlantic Canada, where we don't have millions of people to rely on. We need help from our neighbours to support business."
More from CBC P.E.I.