New Brunswickers help tourist operators in their province stay afloat

·4 min read

As tourist season reaches its peak time, tourist operators across the province are saying it's the support from New Brunswickers that is keeping them in business this summer.

Three usually busy tourist operations in different parts of New Brunswick agree the Atlantic bubble has not had any impact.

Annual visits to the Acadian Village in Caraquet are down by 80 per cent, but Mylene Dugas, who looks after public relations, says they are seeing an increase in visitors from other parts of New Brunswick.

After the government announced the travel rebate program for New Brunswickers to encourage travel and staycations within the province, Dugas said visits from other areas increased.

"For the first time, we are seeing more people come from the south and also the northwest," said Dugas referring to other parts of New Brunswick.

She said it means many visitors are seeing the Acadian Historical Village the first time.

But Dugas said the site hasn't seen much increase in visits from other provinces since the opening of the Atlantic bubble three weeks ago.

"There's not as much visitors during July and will likely be the same in August," said Dugas.

Despite not having tourists from Quebec, who make up 65 per cent of annual visits in a normal year, Dugas said the attraction is happy to be open with other tourist sites in the Acadian Peninsula.

Dugas said the loss of visitors from Quebec helped the site to understand its market better. She said it seems people living in the Acadian Peninsula and the Chaleur region visited the site when they had visitors from Quebec with them.

"Even people living in the area are visiting us even less then usual."

First-time bookings


Pooja Rajmohan, director of sales at the Algonquin Hotel in Saint Andrews, said the hotel has only seen a slight or moderate change in bookings and visits since the Atlantic bubble opened on July 3.

"New Brunswick has been our main contributor ever since we opened in May."

After reopening on May 14, Rajmohan said the hotel has had many New Brunswickers guests who had never visited before. Forty to 50 per cent of those booking are first-time visitors, not just to the hotel, but to the golf course as well.

"The Atlantic bubble hasn't had a lot of impact with us actually."

Rajmohan said they have had some guests from Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island but not many.

The travel rebate program has helped the hotel, though.

"That is actually encouraging people to book. People who actually thought they couldn't take a vacation in a five-star hotel are actually thinking about taking their families out and having a little bit of a good time."

People who participate in the province's travel incentive program will receive a 20 per cent rebate, up to $1,000, when they submit their bills to the province, as long as they've paid for overnight lodging.

Rajmohan said the Algonquin is almost fully booked for the New Brunswick Day long weekend, which is a big help.

Rebate program helps


At Hardings Point Campground near Grand-Bay Westfield, owner Howard Heans said bookings have been all over the map and most of those coming to stay are from within the province.

"Thank goodness for that," said Heans. "We did a little survey on what we've done so far, on where people are from, and 95 per cent of our people that camped this year have been from New Brunswick."

For Heans, opening the Atlantic bubble has not made a big difference but says the province's rebate program is helping with bookings.

He agreed with Rajmohan that it's hard to compare this summer's visitor numbers with last year's because conditions are so different.

"We're in peak season and peak season is usually a lineup of people getting in and another lineup of people checking out to get on two ferries."

But Heans said this year, the driveways are empty.

Right now, most of his campers are coming for weekend visits, and very few show up during the week.

"I'll take any business I can get in this type of situation."