P.E.I. tourist operators concerned about impact of reopening plans

·3 min read
'Islanders I think are itching to travel, and going further afield and not doing staycations,' says Dan James, owner of Kindred Spirits Inn and Cottages in Cavendish. (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)
'Islanders I think are itching to travel, and going further afield and not doing staycations,' says Dan James, owner of Kindred Spirits Inn and Cottages in Cavendish. (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)

Some in Prince Edward Island's tourism industry say the province's reopening plan has them worried, especially since P.E.I.'s timeline for welcoming tourists from across Canada doesn't jive with the one announced by neighbouring New Brunswick, just across the Confederation Bridge.

P.E.I. plans to begin allowing travellers from within the Atlantic region starting June 27. As long as they have one dose of vaccine, they won't need to isolate.

However, on July 1, New Brunswick announced it is going bigger, and welcoming travellers from across Canada if they have one dose. New Brunswickers are welcome to travel the country then too.

Then on Aug. 8, Islanders with two doses will be allowed to travel freely in Canada, but P.E.I. will remain closed to tourists from outside the Atlantic region until Sept. 12.

"New Brunswick came out with a plan shortly after our plan was released, with drastically different dates. And that just added to the confusion for our guests," said Dan James, who owns Kindred Spirits Inn and Cottages in Cavendish.

Let's not screw this up now and change our rules to accommodate everybody else. — Robert Lawlor

James said his summer reservations were already scarce, and predicts this won't help.

"The Atlantic market now has more options to travel to," James said. "We can go elsewhere in Canada, and come back and not have to isolate — but we can't have people from outside Atlantic Canada here. So our market is just going to be smaller right from the get-go.

"If they manage to pull this off safely, have a better tourism year than us. It would be very hard for us to watch that," he added.

'All hurting a little more'

Nova Scotia announced its reopening plan Friday afternoon, but without concrete travel timelines. Newfoundland and Labrador has not announced its reopening plans.

P.E.I.'s hotel association said it is concerned to see the Atlantic bubble essentially popped.

"Based on past experience, our industry is at its best when our region is aligned, so we always hope for consistent processes and timelines in Atlantic Canada," association president John Cudmore said in an email statement to CBC News.

Robert Lawlor owns the Cliffside Inn in Little Sands, and said while the lack of alignment may ultimately hurt business this summer, he is happy to see P.E.I. doing its own thing.

"We're all hurting a little more than we were two years ago. But you know, we are so far into this now," Lawlor said.

"Football analogy: we're in the last two minutes. Let's not screw this up now and change our rules to accommodate everybody else."

In a statement to CBC News, P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office said while the Maritime provinces tried to work toward a co-ordinated approach, the COVID situation in each province is different.

"Each province is in a different stage of COVID-19 impact and public health response (e.g. number of cases, hospitalizations, public and travel measures, etc.)," the statement said.

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