Visitor count, spending near pre-pandemic levels in Moncton

An organization promoting visiting the Moncton area says visitor counts and spending were near pre-pandemic levels last year. (Shane Magee/CBC - image credit)
An organization promoting visiting the Moncton area says visitor counts and spending were near pre-pandemic levels last year. (Shane Magee/CBC - image credit)

The newly created organization that promotes visiting the Moncton region says visitor counts and spending are nearly back to pre-pandemic levels.

"We're really encouraged," Jillian Somers, CEO of Destination Moncton-Dieppe, said in an interview Tuesday.

Visitors to the area spent an estimated $565 million last year, about 97 per cent of what was spent in 2019.

There were an estimated 2.7 million visitors, a figure below the three million estimated in 2019.

Somers said the goal is to match and surpass the 2019 figures.

"We're definitely creeping up within achievable percentage points to be able to making that happen," Somers said.

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

"But 2019 was an exceptional year and we had a growth trajectory that was really exciting. So to get us back to that and then to surpass it is really the goal."

Somers outlined the figures during a Moncton council committee meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Destination Moncton-Dieppe is a destination marketing organization launched last year to promote the visitor economy. Its ads repeatedly played on television when Moncton co-hosted the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships.

It's funded through a hotel room tax Moncton and Dieppe imposed in 2019. Riverview is not part of the organization because it doesn't have a hotel.

The organization's chair, Ray Roberge, told Moncton council that hotels are starting to recover from the pandemic.

"The hotel owners and operators had losses in the millions of dollars," Roberge said. "This is the first year since the pandemic started that we are starting to see black."

Roberge is also general manager of the Delta Beausejour hotel. He said a year ago, hotels across Moncton had an occupancy rate around 20 per cent.

Roberge said the Delta was down to 22 staff. Now, it has 150 employees.

"It's hard to believe that that's where we were and where we are right now," he said.

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

Despite the weak spring last year, Somers said the area saw a fairly strong summer tourism season and benefited from co-hosting the world juniors in late December and early January.

So far, 2023 is looking better with various major events and concerts scheduled.

"We're seeing a lot of dates in the summer for us where the city is already at capacity," Somers said of hotel rooms.

"It's a great problem to have and we're looking forward to kind of pushing those seasons and extending them into the winter and fall as well."

Somers said the Destination group expects the leisure travel sector to fully recover by next year, while meeting and convention sectors may not fully recover for several more years.

Somers said inflation and reduced spending capacity is a top concern.

But, she said, the region still benefits from having two national parks, the Hopewell Rocks provincial park and other destinations close by,

"So our job as sort of the marketing engine for tourism for our region is to tell that story and to be able to tell people that it is worth it for your investment to come on vacation in our region," Somers said.