Fredericton is on its way to a record year for tourism after a strong summer, according to city tourism manager David Seabrook.
He presented the summer success at the city’s development committee meeting on Monday.
In August, hotel room sales were up almost five per cent, and hotel room sales are up four percent overall this year, said Seabrook.
“We would’ve been pleased just to hold the growth we’ve had over the past two or three years,” he said.
“Seeing increased growth this year is really pleasing and in some ways justifies the investment that we’ve seen in the hotel sector in millions of dollars in new hotel properties.”
Seabrook said the sustained growth comes from conventions, sports tourism and bus tours.
He also said the exchange rate, a strong Fredericton economy, and greater numbers of Canadians travelling within the country contributed to the increase.
It’s been a big year for sport tourism in the city, and sport tourism co-ordinator Bobby Despres said it isn’t slowing down as the year goes on.
The city hosted the U-15 and U-17 girls basketball nationals in August and the Canadian ball hockey junior championships in July. Despres said the basketball championships brought in $1.3 million, and ball hockey brought in $1.25 million.
In October, Fredericton will host some of the top bass anglers from around the country at the Berkley B1 Canadian Bass Open.
But it isn’t all about the big events, Despres said.
“There are times that we will go after big events,” he said.
“However, there’s a lot of opportunity in the annual events, utilizing our local community groups and our facility sizes to ensure that we continuously have annual events that will create economic activity in the city.”
Still work to do
Despite the success so far in 2018, the city is still working on a few things to promote tourism.
Seabrook said that since the city is seeing growth in its tourism sector, it has to work on accommodating that growth. He used the city’s new Garrison Night Market as an example.
“The Garrison Night Market exceeded our expectations in terms of the number of vendors, it exceeded our expectations in terms of number of visitors, so our concerns there are accommodating growth and making it less congested,” he said.
“All these things come into play as we look to the future and making sure that we have great tourism experiences for people, and continue to drive the conversation and increase demand.”
Multiple councillors said the city needed to keep pushing for a hotel levy from the provincial government. The Liberal government rejected a levy earlier this year.
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