Vacation and vaccinations: Tourism operators in the Maritimes celebrate a successful summer
New Brunswick tourism operators are celebrating what they’re calling a successful summer season.
Kevin Snair, public relations and marketing coordinator at Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park, says there has been a steady flow of visitors to the popular tourist destination.
"(This year) has been a great season for us. We set some rather optimistic goals for what we hoped to see for visitation, and the guests just did very well for us and blew those numbers out of the water," Snair told CTV News in an interview via Zoom.
Zach Everette, co-owner of Moncton’s Magnetic Hill Winery, says he was cautiously optimistic of what the warmer months would bring in terms of tourists.
"For things to basically have flipped a switch and to have gone from maybe not opening for the year, to then having a crazy successful summer, it was just a super blessing," he said.
The lifting of border restrictions when the province shifted to the final phase of green at the end of June saw an increase in out-of-province travellers.
Jill Marvin is the director at the Magnetic Hill Zoo in Moncton. She says the shift to green allowed businesses more traffic from tourists.
"It did give us an opportunity for tourism. In July and August, the zoo itself usually has visitors from all across Canada and when we slip into the fall we’re a little bit more the Atlantic provinces," she said.
Snair says employees at the entrance gates of Hopewell Rocks keep track of where visitors hail from.
"We certainly saw more visitation from Quebec and Ontario. They’re always some of our biggest folks to come to the park, to begin with, and they certainly started showing up in large numbers," says Snair.
The summer season wasn’t without its challenges. The provincewide emergency order was lifted on July 30 at 11:59 p.m. Shortly after the ease in restrictions, the province saw a steady climb in COVID-19 cases.
"People were celebrating, it was amazing to be part of that celebration and then you know, when case counts started to go up a little bit, we had less customers than we were expecting for the middle of August, just because of some of that apprehension around the case numbers," says Everette.
Hot and humid weather also played a factor in some of the mid-summer slow down. In August, the Magnetic Hill Zoo posted on their social media pages that some services may be reduced due to a heat wave in the area.
"We do know that weather is a deciding factor for people at the zoo. When it gets really hot, people seek other activities,” says Marvin.
Despite many obstacles, the season was considered a success by many, especially in comparison to last year.
"As of right now, we have had over double the number of visitors that we had last year for the entire season, and we still have another five weeks to go," says Snair.
Everette echos Snair’s enthusiasm for a potentially profitable fall and beyond.
"To see hundreds of people here a day enjoying the view, drinking wine and eating local cheese, yeah, it was a really good feeling to kind of know what the next ten years are going to be like."