November 19, 2002
(Tourism, Culture and Recreation)
The following statement was issued today by Julie Bettney, Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Recreation. It was also read in the House of Assembly:
I am pleased to rise in this house today to update members about our economic performance in a sector that affects practically every part of our province. That is the tourism sector.
Tourism has grown steadily over the past decade or so, with especially marked, sustained growth over the last five years. The spending associated with these visitors last year reached almost $300 million, an increase of 22 per cent since 1998. When you add resident tourism expenditures to non-resident expenditures, they total approximately $620 million per year.
I am pleased to announce today that almost all tourism indicators point toward another successful year in 2002. In fact, tourism operators in the province are indicating an extremely successful season.
Inquiries for tourism information increased 35 per cent over 2001. Non-resident automobile visits are up 15 per cent this year. This, in turn, is driving visitation rates up at a number of facilities and sites in all regions of the province.
To the end of September, passenger and vehicle traffic are up 12 per cent and 15 per cent respectively. Marine Atlantic traffic is up 13 per cent.
In July and August of this year, accommodations in the province increased by seven per cent. In fact, the Avalon Convention and Visitors Bureau considers this showing to be the best July and August performance since the John Cabot 500th Anniversary Celebrations in 1997.
Visits to the seven visitor information centres are up 16 per cent this year. Our provincial parks have seen an increase of 17 per cent, and visits to the 10 provincial historic sites are up 45 per cent.
This year, the cruise sector experienced a four per cent increase in total passengers and an increase of 30 per cent in ports of call.
Despite fall-out in the travel trade sector post September 11 of last year, new companies, both domestic and international, are carrying our destination.
While most of our key provincial tourism indicators look positive, air passenger movements are down seven per cent. However, Deer Lake is the exception to this trend. It was the only major airport in Atlantic Canada to register an increase in activity for 2002. Over 114,000 passengers went through Deer Lake during the first nine months of this year. That’s an increase of seven per cent over 2001.
The positive performance of our tourism sector is due to a number of factors. We are seeing the return on our investment in the industry through such initiatives as the Juno Awards, Access North 2002 celebrations, Targa Newfoundland, and the television and film successes such as Random Passage, The Shipping News, and Rare Birds.
This year, we hosted a media fam tour for the Travel Journalists Guild. We also hosted writers from the Boston Globe, New York Times, Canadian Press, Backpacker magazine, and Fly Fish America, to name just a few. With our industry partners, we hosted over 90 travel writers in 2002.
The Canadian Tourism Commission estimates that for every dollar invested in tourism marketing, there is an estimated $10 returned in new tax revenue to the provincial economy. In the 2002 provincial budget, the department’s tourism marketing budget was increased by $1 million. When you include the Atlantic Canada Tourism Partnership and additional funding through the federal/ provincial CEDA Agreement, this brings our total available marketing budget for the 2003 marketing program to just over $6 million.
Our 2003 marketing plan will continue to focus on markets in Ontario, the Maritimes and the Northeast U.S. that have been identified as offering the best potential. Our people in the Strategic Product Development Division will also be working on the product development challenges of market readiness, demand-driven development, and improved infrastructure and services through a renewed Tourism Product Development Strategy.
It is no secret that the growth in our tourism industry has been the result of hard work by many people in my department and the partnerships created in the industry. All of these efforts, combined with our core destination marketing and innovative advertising campaigns, have helped us reach a point where our presence is felt on the world’s stage. Our unique tourism product, along with the dedication of those who work in the industry, makes us well-positioned for continued growth in this sector.
2002 11 19 2:30 p.m.