Golf course losses cost taxpayers $1.4 million

Teresa Wright
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Tourism Minister Robert Henderson says he will be lowering his department's expectations for golf revenues now that Tourism P.E.I. has had to go to cabinet for almost $1.4 million to cover golf course losses.

Cabinet approved a special warrant for $1,398,000 last week under the heading 'miscellaneous grants.'

Henderson said this money was needed because his department overestimated the amount of revenue expected for 2011 from the four provincially-owned golf courses.

Dundarave, Brudenell, Crowbush and Mill River drew a little less than $4 million in revenues this year. That's over $1 million less than expected, Henderson said.

"We overestimated what the revenues were going to be."

That's why in this year's budget, he plans to adjust his figures.

"We want to try to minimize any unexpected things like this and I think we will want to try to make (the numbers) much more accurate to the realities of the economy," he said.

Henderson named several factors he believes contributed to the poor golf revenues last year. The summer was rainy, the economy was sluggish and the number of tourists visiting P.E.I. was down.

And despite the fact revenues for golf were less than $4 million while operating costs for the four provincial golf courses is just over $5 million, Henderson believes the provincial courses are a good investment.

"The golf industry contributes significantly to the provincial economy. Spinoffs from golf contributed to about $60 million in provincial revenues," he said.

"We're not giving up on golf."

Opposition Tourism Critic James Aylward was highly critical of government handing over a million dollars to Tourism P.E.I. to make up for its budget shortfalls.

At a time when even NGOs that receive provincial funding will be facing a three per cent government-wide cut this year (which excludes health care), Aylward said Islanders will likely find this 'bail out' tough to take.

"I don't think this is going to go over very well," he said.

"We have many tourism operators in the province that, if they have a poor year, they don't get money from tourism, they don't get money from the government. Instead, if they run a loss in a particular year, the very first line item for their budget for their next year is their deficit."

Aylward said the province should come up with a better plan to deal with the losses.

One of the biggest problems is the high cost of playing at these courses, Aylward noted.

He said he does not golf at the provincial courses.

"Why? Because I can't afford them," he said.

"If you talk to many Islanders, they'd love to golf Crowbush, Dundarave, Mill River... but if you're pricing your product to the point where even your locals can't afford to enjoy those facilities, then you're losing out on a pretty good market."

Henderson said he hopes 2012 will prove to be a better year for golf in P.E.I.

Organizations: Islanders

Geographic location: Mill River

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Recent comments

  • johnpei
    February 03, 2012 - 07:14

    Its time to stop listening to the bull from government,always blaming someone or something else for their pathetic leadership,especially in tourism and agriculture,they are ruining the island way.They got their pension,that was their main concern.its all down hill now..100 a game courses,boy thats really gonna bring the tourists...COME ON WAKE UP,,if things stay the same,enjoy an even bigger deficet.

  • chipandputt
    February 02, 2012 - 12:10

    I have to agree 100% with Mr Aylward when he states that the cost of playing those courses is way too expensive. I played well over 100 games last season and went to one of those provincial courses only 4 times. The reason why I went there was because I had friends who were visiting from abroad and they had put those courses on their to do list. Had it not bee for them I never would have gone because I find that the courses are grossly overpriced. There are plenty of other courses on the island that provide an equal or better challenge at what is often less then half the price. A bail out is an insult to tax payers when in fact the reason was more bad management that caused a large part of the deficit. I am however certain that those bad managers are not getting a pay cut despite their obvious lack of managerial skills. I will continue to play the other friendlier and less expensive courses until such time as these courses review their prices and operating procedures.

    February 02, 2012 - 11:20

    The first point is that whenever any Government gets involved money is lost. It is a proven fact over and over again. Second it is too expensive for islanders to golf on these courses unless you are one of the businessmen connected to the Government or a Government member. It appears that these courses have high prices to keep regular Islanders off and keep them private for investors and people with money to throw away. You are going to lose money regardless if the weather conditions are fine or not. Check back in previous years and you will find these courses booked solid with tee off times and they still lose money.

  • Guy Cousineau
    February 02, 2012 - 10:34

    I have always said that if government was a business it would have gone bankrupt a long time ago. Perhaps it is time to sell the business and let someone else turn it into a profit. Thank goodness we don't get as much government as we pay for!

  • Leo Gaudet
    February 02, 2012 - 10:31

    strange how they can't fine the $50,000.00 they promised our medical centre.

    • Ed Gallant
      February 06, 2012 - 11:47

      The ONLY health center on PEI that doesn't receive a dime of gov't funding and the premier reneges on his promise for a paltry $50,000, while giving Charlottetown $1 Million Dollars for a parking lot in Ch"Town from the Rural Funds and McKinley tries to make it look like it's a rural project.The people of PEI should be up in arms over this and how the village of Tignish is being treated.And they have done nothing to replace our 1 doctor who told them last July that he was retiring.But they can take two doctors out of family practice and put them in good positions at the QEH. The people of PEI should hang their heads in shame at the way they have treated Tignish,How many millions of dollars have gone to O'Leary and Alberton over the years, yet not one dime for Tignish. Shame on all of you,you ingrates.