SUMMERSIDE – Atlanticade 2014 was a success but now the challenge is reaching an agreement to keep the international motorcycle event in Summerside, says organizer Dale Hicks.
© Mike Carson/Journal Pioneer
Atlanticade Organizer dale Hicks said the event needs more support and wants to see the province get involved. Hicks said the economic impact of the event is Island wide and the province should be supporting it.
“We had close to 3,000 participants and out of those about 15 per cent of them were from the Summerside area,” Hicks said from New Brunswick. “The other 85 per cent came from outside the Summerside area.”
The 2014 numbers were ahead of 2013 and on a par with 2012.
“It depends on the weather,” Hicks said. “These figures go back to the first year we were there when the total off-Island participation was about 65 per cent. Last year it was almost a 50-50 split because the weather kept the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia crowd away. Normally, it’s about 65 per cent off-island and 35 per cent on-Island.”
“We were very happy with the turnout. We had people from 10 provinces, one territory and 12 states. We look at what we call outside the Maritimes and that was about 15 per cent.”
Hicks said all of the data collected from the event has gone to the tourism and research centre at U.P.E.I.
“They have an agreement with Tourism P.E.I. to do a study,” he said. “They sent out a survey a couple of weeks ago. They’re in the process of gathering the responses to put together a report to analyze the economic impact of it.”
Hicks said he doesn’t have any hard figures from the 2014 event about the economic impact of Atlanticade.
“We use to do something on our own but we've stopped doing that and are letting the experts paly with it. It’s usually between the $1 million and $2 million range,” he said.
The three-year contract between Atlanticade and the City of Summerside ended this year and negotiations for a new deal will begin over the fall.
Hicks said he has been pleased with the partnership that has developed between the city and the event but other resources need to be sourced to keep Atlanticade on the Island.
“The one area that we have fallen down on is corporate sponsorship,” he said. “That’s because it’s difficult when you’re on this side of the bridge (in New Brunswick). You don’t know who the players are in businesses over there and it’s tough to line up to go see them. One of thing we’re going to have to look at is getting a sponsorship committee in place over there that can make some contacts and try and get more corporate sponsorship for the event.”
Hicks said the Atlanticade is more than just a Summerside event. Its impact is Island wide and the provincial government has to realize this.
“It’s the province that has to step up at the end of the day,” he said. “The province sits down and says, ‘What’s Summerside doing for you? We’ll match it.’ I’m sitting back and saying when people are out gassing up in Charlottetown or, having a meal in Charlottetown or they’re at the Tim Hortons in Cavendish or they’re at North Cape at the windmills and they’re having lunch, or in Tignish or down in Borden-Carleton – that’s not impacting Summerside. That money that is being generated in tax revenue is going back to the province not to Summerside. My point to the province is yes, whatever Summerside is doing, you guys should be doubling that, not matching it. It has an impact right across the province.”
Hicks said the organizing committee has received emails and Facebook messages from some of the participants saying they spend extra time on P.E.I. beyond Atlanticade. He said others made return trips to the Island after Atlanticade.
“There are a lot of return visits that are a result of Atlanticade,” Hicks said. “The provincial tourism body has to step up and recognize this. This is an Island wide impact not just Summerside. It’s the province that’s going to make or break this thing at the end of the day.”