Tourism industry sees hopeful trend as New Brunswick opens up

Click to play video: 'Tourism operators in New Brunswick see light at end of COVID-19 tunnel' Tourism operators in New Brunswick see light at end of COVID-19 tunnel
WATCH: People working in the tourism industry are seeing the light at the end of a long tunnel. More than half of the province is fully vaccinated and operators are rejoining at the slow return to normal. Nathalie Sturgeon has the story – Jul 13, 2021

The tourism industry is finally feeling hopeful.

On Tuesday, the province saw 52 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers fully vaccinated, narrowing the path to green.

Brent Staeben, a spokesperson and long-time organizer for the Harvest Music Festival, said hotels he’s spoken with are booking up fast for the September festival.

Read more: ‘Extremely exciting’: N.B. businesses hoping for influx of people with loosened restrictions

It was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our expectation is, I think, that based on what we’ve heard so far that there will be a considerable amount of interest in those tickets for sure. It’s a little bit different, as we said. We don’t have all the venues that we might have had in the past,” he said in an interview Tuesday.

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He said they had been planning since December. The team had worked out a few different scenarios before the province said it would move to the green phase in time for the weekend the festival is traditionally held.

Staeben added there is a bit more open space so people can feel comfortable and enjoy the music even if they don’t want to go into the tent atmosphere.

He said the hope is that the return of the festival brings a renewed sense of normal.

However, Staeben isn’t the only one noticing an uptick.

Boost seen on the Acadian Peninsula

Carol Alderdice, the president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick, said there has been lots of traffic coming in from Quebec and Ontario.

“It’s been really good,” she said in an interview Monday. “It’s been exceptionally good on the Acadian Peninsula and the southeast part of the province. Not so quick on the River Valley, but overall, there is no doubt people are anxiously getting out and reserving and are feeling pretty good about it.”

Read more: ‘The crystal ball isn’t working’: Maritime tourism operators prepare for unpredictable season

She said the association is also feeling really good about it.

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Alderdice said it has been a bleak 16 months, and the is the first hope many tourism operators have had in a long time.

She previously told Global News it could take up to four years to fully recover to the levels the province saw in 2019.

Her advice for those starting to hear the phones ring is to enjoy the feeling.

Read more: Maritime businesses brace for a second summer without cruise ship tourists

New Brunswick will lift all COVID-19 restrictions in early August if 75 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers have had two doses of the vaccine.

About 52 per cent of New Brunswick are fully vaccinated as of July 13. The province has not had positive COVID-19 cases in eight days.

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