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Provincial tourism association optimistic for 2023 season

By Brad Perry Apr 27, 2023 | 9:57 AM

Officials from New Brunswick’s tourism industry association are feeling optimistic heading into this year’s season.

Tourism numbers dropped across the province over the past couple of years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and related measures.

Those numbers saw a boost last year and came “incredibly close” to what we saw before the pandemic, according to the province’s tourism minister.

Andrew McNair, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick, said he is hopeful we will return to pre-pandemic levels this year.

“This year will be the first post-pandemic season with zero restrictions anywhere, so we’re very optimistic with where things are headed,” McNair said in a phone interview this week.

“We are certainly seeing things continue to go in the right direction as we come into the busy season and operators are getting ready for what’s anticipated to be a big year given the last few years.”

While pandemic restrictions are in the rearview mirror, there are other challenges facing tourism operators in the province.

Labour shortages have impacted many sectors, and McNair said the tourism sector has not been immune.

“But we’re seeing and hearing some operators finding creative ways of either finding people or finding efficiencies to deal with the shortage so they can make sure they’re able to meet the demand of the consumers,” he said.

In addition, high inflation means many New Brunswickers may be looking to vacation closer to home this year.

McNair said this is not something new as many people got used to doing just that throughout the pandemic.

“People are still wanting to travel, they’re still wanting to vacation, they’re still wanting to do things to enjoy themselves,” he said.

“We think the numbers will continue to go in the right direction. It just might be an operator will see people from closer to home as opposed to further out west or down into the United States.”

Even so, McNair said we are seeing out-of-province visitors return, with more licence plates being seen from other parts of Canada and south of the border.

The Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture saw its budget increase by nine per cent this year to more than $75 million.

It includes $2 million for #exploreNB programming and activities as part of the department’s strategic vision, along with a $ 2 million increase in funding for provincial parks.

“There’s definitely some good resources being put in the right direction, so I think it’s all positive,” said McNair.


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