Summerside has an opportunity to cash in on the lucrative meetings and convention market through a new agreement with Meetings and Conventions P.E.I. but it needs to make sure it has a product that will lure clients to the city.
Tourism Summerside is in the early stages of an agreement with Meetings and Conventions P.E.I. to attract meetings and conventions to the city.
Through an increased accommodations levy, which takes effect March 1, Tourism Summerside is paying Meetings and Conventions P.E.I. $25,000 for their marketing efforts.
That’s a small sum to pay if it brings more visitors to Summerside.
The major conventions will go to the Charlottetown area; that’s just the nature of the beast.
Michael Matthews, executive director of Meetings and Conventions P.E.I., confirmed that when he said national groups tend to favour staging their events in provincial capitals. These cities usually have the centres that can accommodate larger gatherings and the attractions to go along with them.
But it’s the smaller meetings, the ones that can be accommodated by a single hotel that Summerside needs to go after.
That thought is not lost on Tourism Summerside president Duke Cormier.
“There’s a brand new building in Charlottetown,” he said. “It’s a wonderful facility that’s going to bring all kinds of people to Prince Edward Island, but we’ve got to find a way to get some of them here in Summerside.”
Summerside needs to be market-ready. It needs to have product here that’s going to encourage that convention visitor to want to stay.
This is going to take a co-operative effort on the part of all stakeholders in the city. It won’t happen overnight, but it is an asset that can begin small and grow over the years.
The Summerside Port Corporation has undertaken a 25-year plan for the development of the city’s waterfront. The waterfront is one of the city’s biggest tourism draws.
The corporation needs to include not only tourism and other economic development opportunities in its decisions but also consider the impact new development will have on drawing meetings and conventions to the community and the dollars these events are capable of bringing to the city.