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September 2, 1998
(Tourism, Culture and Recreation)

Mid-season tourism numbers show strong performance

Mid-season tourism figures for the province are showing growth for 1998, in some cases meeting or exceeding record totals achieved for the same period during last year's Cabot Celebrations, says Tourism, Culture and Recreation Minister Sandra Kelly.

"Throughout this past spring at major tourism marketing shows, we could sense that the awareness of Newfoundland and Labrador was causing quite a stir," Kelly said. "It's fantastic to see such interest is now materializing into actual visitation to our province."

Kelly noted a strong increase in non-resident automobile traffic entering the province. At the end of July 1996, a total of 51,890 travellers had entered the province for the year. During the same period during last year's Cabot celebrations, that figure had increased to 55,902 and this year, the figure has risen even further to 58,950.

"Normally, after a highly successful event such as the Cabot 500 Anniversary Celebrations, some slippage in tourism statistics would be anticipated," Kelly noted. "At this point in 1998, the tourism interest in Newfoundland and Labrador had exceeded our expectations."

The minister noted that several travel indicators are showing growth or continuing strong performances for the first seven months of this year, especially when positioned in a three-year trend.

During the Cabot 500 year, charter airline traffic increased by 28 per cent over 1996, and for the first seven months of 1998, it has increased a further 11 per cent over 1997.

Figures for scheduled airline traffic into the province show that while traffic to the end of July decreased six per cent compared with the same period last year, it remains 3.5 per cent higher than the same period in 1996.

"Obviously, we are maintaining a great degree of the momentum we achieved in the tourism marketplace over the past couple of years," the minister said. "Even if year-end totals reveal us to be down slightly, this is a phenomenal achievement given a general expectation that we would drop back notably following such a busy year in 1997."

Kelly noted that with Cabot 500, Soiree '99 and the 1,000th anniversary of the Viking Landfall at L'anse aux Meadows all occurring within a four-year period, Newfoundland and Labrador has

three key promotional opportunities for its tourism product.

"Our major celebrations strategy is structured around these three events, and the indications are these promotional overtures are paying off, both in terms of awareness of and visitation to our province," she added.

Media contact: Doug Burgess, Communications Director,(709) 729-0928.

1998 09 02 4:15 p.m.

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