May 12, 2004
(Tourism, Culture and Recreation)

The following statement was issued today by Paul Shelley, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. It was also read in the House of Assembly:

Tourism indicators for the 2004 tourism season

I rise in this Honourable House today to inform colleagues about some exciting tourism indicators for the 2004 tourism season. I am pleased to report that inquiries for travel/tourism-related information to the province�s 1-800 number and website reached over 34,000 from January to March of this year. This represents a 15 per cent increase over 2003.

Tour operators have also indicated to my department that 2004 is shaping up to be a great year for sales of the Newfoundland and Labrador product. One example is Collette Vacations, a US-based tour wholesaler, who has indicated that room nights booked in the province are up 157 per cent over last year. Maxxim Vacations has also reported an increase in both inquiries and bookings so far this year. Owner Judy Sparkes-Giannou has indicated that sales have increased by 66 per cent compared to the same period last year, and she is optimistic that 2004 will be one of our best years ever. I am optimistic, as are tourism operators, that this increase in interest in our province will result in increased visitation during the 2004 tourism season.

Our province offers a unique destination to visitors from all over the world. During a time when travellers are looking for a safe, pristine and unique location that is rich in both culture and heritage, Newfoundland and Labrador is becoming a destination of choice.

Our government is committed to increasing the potential of the tourism industry through strategic investments because we believe an investment in tourism is a wise investment and one that will result in increased economic return to the province. We demonstrated this commitment during Budget 2004, when we increased the tourism marketing budget by $1 million.

The fact is that there has never been a better time to invest in tourism. The tourism industry in Newfoundland and Labrador and in Canada is part of one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. It is predicted that there will be in excess of 400,000 new jobs in the tourism industry in Canada over the next five years. Here in our province, resident and non-resident expenditures now exceed $620 million. The tourism industry supports 25,000 direct and indirect jobs in the province and an estimated 2,400 businesses.

While we have seen tremendous growth in the tourism industry in this province over the last five years, with upwards of 440,000 people visiting this province last year, we know that the full potential of this industry is yet to be realized.

I encourage all members and all residents to support the tourism industry in our province and to experience the natural beauty and splendour of Newfoundland and Labrador by vacationing at home this summer. I especially encourage all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to celebrate 500 years of French presence in the province by taking part in events in over 30 communities associated with this year�s celebrations.

2004 05 12                                         2:30 p.m.

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