Shediac-Beaubassin-Cap-Pelé MLA, Jacques LeBlanc is encouraging the province to develop a targeted tourism campaign encouraging New Brunswickers to vacation in their home province once emergency measures in place because of COVID-19 are lifted.
LeBlanc believes that in order to support a tourism industry in the province that is reeling from the impact of COVID-19, people should be encouraged to visit areas of the province that hold a special fondness for them or some of the beautiful places in New Brunswick they have yet to discover.
Even though restrictions on movement may be eased soon for New Brunswickers, it’s likely the province’s borders will remain closed for a much longer period of time to keep the virus out of the province. That means the tourism industry will be almost completely reliant on those who live in the province.
“We’ve done a pretty good job her keeping our infection rate low,” LeBlanc noted. “I suspect people will be reluctant to travel outside the province because of the health risks and will likely face travel restrictions.
“There are many wonderful places to visit throughout our province and we should make sure that New Brunswickers know what all our regions have to offer. A tourism marketing campaign promoting “staycations” and encouraging all of us to support local businesses would be a welcome initiative.”
LeBlanc said it will be important for tourism operators to have a clear picture of what types of activities will be allowed and when so they can plan accordingly.
“For example, when will parks,beaches and campgrounds be reopened. When will ATV trails reopen, and when can activities such as fishing, hunting, or golfing resume. The first priority of course is public health and safety and we have to follow the direction of our public health officials on that front. Everyone is anxious to get out and moving, but public health is the main concern. But let’s start at least thinking of what we can do to help the tourism industry.”
LeBlanc pointed to PEI, where the provincial government announced this week an aid package for the tourism industry worth up to $66 million. This includes expanded marketing, waiving of licencing, inspection, and advertising fees for tourist operators, and a reimbursement of investments for nonprofits forced to cancel events due to to COVID-19.
LeBlanc said tourism is an extremely important sector to the province’s economy. In 2018 the provincial government estimated that $1.3 billion in tourism dollars was spent in the province each year.
“Obviously this is going to be a down year for this sector, but let’s not write it off completely,” LeBlanc said. “We need to make strategic investments in tourism part of our economic recovery. These investments will create and maintain jobs and boost provincial revenues not only this year but in years to come.”