Off the beaten track
An Island fit for a Prince
Prince Edward Island lies off the South-East coast of Canada. And with its Shipping News vistas it's more than just an island...it's paradise with a view.Nestled off the East coast of Canada, just South of Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island (PEI) is a gentle ripple amidst the chill crests of the North Atlantic. Ocean Liners call upon its port and its skiing and beaches truly make it an island for all seasons. So much so that tourism minister Jeff Lantz announced recently that Prince Edward Island had broken revenue records during the 2002 tourism season - over $350 million for the period of May to October. The figure represents a 7.5 per cent increase over last year. So what is the reason behind this spurt in revenue? "The growth is significant," says manager of advertising and publicity for the island, Carol Horne. "PEI tourism revenues have been on a primarily positive growth curve since the opening of the Confederation Bridge [which connects the island to the mainland] in 1997, when visitation jumped by 60 per cent. While revenues have been growing, actual visitation since that year have remained largely stable with small fluctuations, netting out at between 1.1 and 1.23 million over the past few years." The island has long been a favourite of the cruise market, and in 2002 it proved it. "Last year  was a very successful cruise year for Charlottetown with about 20,000 visitors coming off cruise ships and about 24 arrivals, and we count on more for 2003. Holland America has already booked 10 arrivals for the coming season," says Horne. PEI, according to Horne, is famous for its beaches and "pastoral landscape", but one must remember that it is also the home of "Anne of Green Gables" and the "Birthplace of Canada". Most people visit PEI from mid-May to late October. PEI is at its warmest in July and August. Average temperatures are a pleasant 23 degrees centigrade in summer. Winters, however can reach -10 degrees. So if you love the sound of freezing bones, then this is the time to visit. If, however, you are travelling with children then, according to Horne, it would be advisable to visit during the warmer months. "July and August are the best times to visit PEI if travelling with children, as all the attractions and amusement parks are open, and the beaches are fun to play on." PEI has a strong Celtic heritage says Horne. "So there are plenty of fiddling/traditional music events between May and October. We even have a college of bagpiping, which has many events and concerts. We also have a strong French Acadian community and the native Mikmaq are developing a tourism product. The island also boasts lots of little museums that talk about things like the potato industry, shipbuilding, fishing etc." So how would one get to Prince Edward Island? "Most of our air connections come through Toronto or Halifax NS (so Air Canada either from Dubai, or a connection from most metropolises in the US. Of course once in Halifax, or Toronto one can drive to PEI using the 13 km Confederation Bridge or in summer use the car ferry. Of course if one fancies trying out one's sea legs then look at Holland America (www.hollandamerica.com) and Silver Seas (www.silverseas-and-seabourn-cruises.com) for a multitiude of options. For more information on Prince Edward Island go to www.peiplay.com.