The tourism industry recorded another strong performance in 1998, following on the success of the Cabot 500 Celebrations in 1997. The table below shows that tourism indicators so far this year are significantly higher than in 1996. Two indicators actually showed gains over 1997 despite the fact that some slippage in tourism normally occurs after a major event like the Cabot 500 Celebrations.
Increased tourist awareness, the depreciated Canadian dollar, and favourable summer weather, were among the factors behind the tourism industry's strong performance. Performance might have been better had it not been hampered by the Air Canada strike in September and, threatened job action at Marine Atlantic in June.
Major investments continue to be made in the tourism sector to ensure that physical attractions and the services provided give tourists a quality experience. Modern facilities such as the recently opened Canada Games Centre in Corner Brook and the new Civic Centre currently under construction in St. John's will deliver many new, high-yield conventions to the Province in the future. These factors, combined with upcoming celebrations such as Soiree '99 this coming year and the Viking Millennium in 2000, all bode well for the industry's goal of building on recent gains.
Winter tourism on the West Coast of the Province will receive a major boost in 1999 as Corner Brook and surrounding area host the Canada Winter Games from February 20 to March 6, 1999. More than 3,500 athletes, coaches and officials will participate in the Games as well as thousands of volunteers and spectators.
The newly opened Canada Games Centre in Corner Brook together with the Marble Mountain Ski Resort will operate as major venues for a number of the 21 sporting events to be featured. In addition, a number of other excellent venues will be showcased during the Games.
Aside from the obvious current economic benefits of the Games, there are legacies of the celebration which will provide many long-term benefits for Corner Brook and surrounding area. These include modern state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure, experienced volunteers and coaches, greater commitment to sport, and invaluable exposure and publicity for the region's tourism product.
Highlights of 1998 Tourism
|Indicator||Time Period||Level||%Change from 1997||%Change from 1996|
|Non-resident automobile visitors||Jan-Nov||124,364 visitors||4.0%||16.8%|
Direct non-resident international arrivals at St. John's airport
Provincial hotel occupancy rate
|Jan-Sept||63.1%||-5.0 points||7.2 points|
|St. John's hotel occupancy rate||Jan-Sept||65.9%||-7.1 points||8.5 points|
|Provincially operated historic sites1||Jun-early Oct||63,300 visitors||-32.2%||4.8%|
|Car rental revenue
(St. John's airport)
Passengers boarding and deplaning, major airports
|Charter airline passengers||Jan-Sept||62,804 passengers||11.6%||49.2%|
1: A substantial portion of the overall decline can be attributed to the significant
growth in visitations to the Bonavista Peninsula during the Cabot Celebrations.
In 1997, Newfoundland and Labrador celebrated the 500 Anniversary of John Cabot's historic voyage from Bristol, England to Newfoundland. Preliminary estimates indicate that the Province attracted 383,900 non-resident visitors in 1997. This record level of visitation represented an additional 69,000 visitors or an increase of 22% over 1996. In-province expenditures by these non-resident visitors exceeded $204 million dollars, an increase of 25% over 1996 levels. Total expenditures, by non-resident and resident combined, exceeded $500 million in 1997.
The Province experienced spectacular growth in such key markets as meetings, conventions and incentive travel. St. John's, for example, hosted 151 events (i.e., conventions, meetings, major sporting events), an increase of 92 events or 156% over 1996 levels, and more than double the previous eight year average of 67 events per year. The events in 1997 attracted over 35,300 participants, triple the number of participants in 1996. Accommodation data from Pannell Kerr Forster indicates that during 1997, provincial hotels recorded the highest occupancy rate in Atlantic Canada (65%). In addition when compared to 1996, the Province recorded the largest year-over-year change in Canada (+10.1 points).
These celebrations increased the awareness of the Province's tourism product and are providing a springboard for the upcoming celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Confederation in 1999 (Soiree '99) and the Viking Millennium in 2000.
Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador (HNL), the Tourism Industry Association for Newfoundland and Labrador, represents over 500 businesses across the Province. 1998 has been a positive year for the tourism industry, a trend that is expected to continue. HNL is dedicated to the support and development of tourism to ensure that it continues to grow and prosper. Some of the highlights of 1998 include:
Management professional development is a priority for the tourism industry. Currently, there are 104 employees from the accommodations, food & beverage, adventure and tourism services sectors enrolled in the national certification process. This three-step certification process recognizes individuals who meet national standards. Work is also ongoing with the outdoor adventure sector, an area determined to hold considerable potential for growth.
Quality on the Rise
The quality of accommodations in the Province continues to rise, according to the Newfoundland and Labrador Accommodations Rating Council. From 1997 to 1998, the number of properties with a 3 star rating was up from 43 to 46, 3.5 stars from 23 to 34, while 4 star rated properties doubled from 5 to 10.
Atlantic Canada Showcase '98
For the second time in five years, Newfoundland and Labrador hosted Atlantic Canada Showcase. Corner Brook was the site for this year's event. Approximately 300 tourism exhibitors, 62 from Newfoundland and Labrador, were present at the show attended by some 75 national and international motorcoach operators. Showcase was perfectly timed to reappear in the Province with events such as Soiree '99 and the Viking Millennium on the horizon.
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