Resort towns planning on banner tourism year

·3 min read
Shediac is expecting its giant lobster will see lots of admirers this summer. (Town of Shediac - image credit)
Shediac is expecting its giant lobster will see lots of admirers this summer. (Town of Shediac - image credit)

Mayors of two resort towns in the province are bullish on the prospects for this years tourist season.

Roger Caissie, the mayor of Shediac, said the mood in the town at the moment can be described as "extreme optimism."

"They're all seeing bookings like they've never seen before, at least compared to the last two years," said Caissie.

"Shediac's going to be a busy spot as long as Mother Nature can cooperate with us most of the time. I think we're looking for a great tourist season. "

Along the Fundy coast, the feeling is much the same in Saint Andrews.

"So far hotel bookings are up from last year and of course, we had a pandemic," said Brad Henderson, mayor of Saint Andrews.

"But Saint Andrews really never slowed down much during the pandemic. We were very fortunate to have a lot of visitors [in] 2020 and 2021."

Too much of a good thing

Many areas of the province have seen booming tourism numbers during the pandemic.

This can be attributed to relatively low COVID rates during the Atlantic Bubble phase of restrictions, the growing popularity of "staycations" and people wanting to get out after two years of restrictions.

But that increase in demand is coming up against supply issues, specifically workers and housing for them.

Gary Moore/CBC
Gary Moore/CBC

"Our biggest threat as a community right now would be staffing, just because of the industry and finding enough people to work," said Henderson.

Henderson said the town has grown by almost 15 per cent in the past five years, and since the community already had a limited supply of rentals, there have been issues housing people to work in the tourism industry.

But Henderson said the town is working toward a solution.

"We have approximately 120 units we're aiming at," said Henderson.

"It doesn't sound like a lot, but there's only 900 dwellings in the town of Saint Andrews. It's a small town. So to have that much growth, it would be quite significant."

Inflation woes

While Henderson is expecting plenty of guests, he admits the high cost of gas may turn off some potential tourists.

Town of Saint Andrews
Town of Saint Andrews

He said he's not concerned about people who are visiting and staying over, but there is concern day-trippers from Saint John or Fredericton may decide not to visit.

"With gas roughly being double in price, it's a lot bigger commitment to come to our community," said Henderson.

Early start

While Saint Andrews and Shediac are tourist hotspots all season long, some major events are happening now or are imminent.

For Saint Andrews, the Queen's Platinum Jubilee has become a one-time tourist attraction for the town.

Submitted by Brad Henderson
Submitted by Brad Henderson

"I think a lot of people had a buzz because a life-size cutout of the Queen herself has been moving around town," said Henderson.

For Shediac, the annual Lobster Fest returns to its pre-pandemic glory the first week of July.

"We're going to have a full fledged lobster festival," said Caissie.

"Lot of shows for all ages. The carnival rides are back."

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