Annals of Barrel Scraping

The City of Charlottetown, celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, has produced a list of 150 Reasons To Visit Charlottetown, and has purchased a huge banner ad on the Guardian website to advertise it.

Scanning the list, it quickly becomes evident that while this gambit may have worked well for the 25th, or maybe even the 50th anniversary, there simply aren’t 150 reasons to visit Charlottetown. Witness these compelling “honey, we’ve got to go to Charlottetown this summer” items on the list:

  • 79. Virtual Tours
  • 89. Career Skills Learning Centre
  • 91. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • 103. Novelty Shops
  • 118. Meetings PEI
  • 121. City Bus Service
  • 125. Car Rentals
  • 127. A Canadian Port City
  • 138. Fantastic Volunteers
  • 141. Capital Commission
  • 147. Social Adventures

While some of these are obviously just fluff — car rentals? fantastic volunteers? — and some are outright narcissism — Capital Commission? Meetings PEI? — I can’t imagine why anyone in their right mind would think of listing “Career Skills Learning Centre” as a reason for visting Charlottetown. Do tourists usually factor in the availablity of Microsoft Word courses in their vacation plans?

The most galling “reason,” however, is “City Bus Service,” which, in fact, exists in such an anemic form at present that it’s more of a reason not to visit Charlottetown.


Cyn's picture
Cyn on March 19, 2005 - 19:05 Permalink

#151 — Mitch Tweel and Philip Brown

Ken Williams's picture
Ken Williams on March 20, 2005 - 00:39 Permalink

Purely mastubatory excercise — 150 reasons to waste paper.

A top ten list would have made more sense.

Charlotte Town's picture
Charlotte Town on March 20, 2005 - 02:07 Permalink

How about publishing 150 reasons NOT to visit Charlottetown”:

I’ll start it off…

1-Town Square website
2-Parking Kiosks
3-Narrow sidewalks
4-North River Road potholes
5-University Avenue strip
6-Newland “Heritage Home”
7-CARI debt
8-“Bus Service”, Charlottetown style
9-MLA’s parking lot in prime spot on historic Great George St.
10-Bootleggers no longer open
11-Peter Pan Corner
12-Belvedere Corner
13-The Bypass (with traffic lights every 100 yards)
14-The Delta — nice hotel, but why are there no windows on the water side?
15-Only town with a tombstone store and a Subway in same building
16-Authentic ghost town (downtown area)
17-Founder’s Hall — for the real story of Canada, Province House is just a couple of blocks away
18-Official city website uses a font designed for comic books
19-Racino: casino, Charlottetown style (see bus service #8)
20-COWS — expensive ice cream, corny T-Shirts
21-Atlantic Technology Centre
22-HMCS Queen Charlotte: this is a ship?
23-PEI Dirt Shirts
24-The new Government of Canada building across from the Technology Centre
25-Most unsolved murders per capita

Charlie Town's picture
Charlie Town on March 20, 2005 - 05:45 Permalink

26-Home Depot (and the rest of that part of North River Road)
27-The Guardian newspaper (a fine piece of journalism)
28-checking for spelling mistakes, strawberry socials, & obituaries in #27
29-waterfront boardwalk that keeps getting ripped apart in storms & rebuilt
30-UPEI Student Union Centre (aka space ship)
31-town houses across from #30
32-City police, see #25
33-“3 consecutive mayors without a clue” (Tex, George, Clifford)
34-the City planning department
35-Ken’s Corner
36-the Delta Prince Edward in a rain storm (parking garage below sea level)
37-Founders Hall
38-Old Home Week
39-North River causeway & semi-abandoned “factory” shops
40-Hillsborough River bridge
41-industrial brownfields on Charlottetown side of #40
42-Wild West (for developers) — see #34,30,26,8,5, etc.
43-Other buffoons in local politics who have no other life (see #33,6, Cynthia’s comment, etc.)
44-“The Subway Gang”
45-the “Charlottetown Experimental Farm”
46-Charlottetown Mall
47-Confederation Court Mall
48-sewage treatment plan (“Charlottetown — we only screen your #*&t, we don’t treat it”)
49-Confederation Players
50-Capital Commission & CADC productions (Festival of Lights, Fathers, Snow, boredom, etc.)

Nils's picture
Nils on March 20, 2005 - 15:03 Permalink

Ehh, if yez have 50 reasons you don’t loike it, me son, there are any number of travel agents desp’rate willin’ to guide yez to another part of the world.

What pisses me off about the 150 Reasons list is the implied need to compare life here with life elsewhere, and come to the conclusion that we’re “bigger than/more than/better than”. I don’t understand why the tourism people never seem to get that people come here precisely because it’s NOT the same as where they are from. We take holidays “to” places — but we also, at the same time, take holidays “from” the places we’re in.

So this ad fails on two counts: by touting Charlottetown’s “exciting night life” (for example)it would repel those from larger cities who frankly, have all the excitement they need and want to come someplace quiet; and it betrays those who buy it, come here, and learn that our definition of “exciting night life” (a movie at City Cinema followed by drinks at 42nd Street or, if we’re really up for adventure, some pool at Dooley’s) doesn’t quite make the needle go into the red for them.

I’d love to run an experiment: run this ad, and somehow track the result. Then run a second ad — one that simply says “Charlottetown — we’ve got diagonal parking on our main streets; no building higher than seven storeys; and for sheer excitement on a Saturday night, how about buying an ice cream cone and walking along the Boardwalk, smiling and saying “Hi” to everyone you pass?”

See which one folks respond to.

Charlotte Town's picture
Charlotte Town on March 20, 2005 - 15:20 Permalink

Maybe they could count 150 things we’re glad we don’t have in Charlottetown:
1-Traffic Jams
2-Noisy buses
3-Long lineups
4-Sunday shoppers
5-High crime rate
6-Expensive admission prices
7-Long commutes
8-Summer homes hours away
9-Air pollution
11-city parks full of drug abusers
12-oppressive heat (or cold)
13-BMW dealers (no need to keep up with the Jones’)
14-Postage-stamp lots

etc. etc.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on March 20, 2005 - 15:22 Permalink

Nils, I think you should be in charge of tourism promotion: you’ve hit many nails on many heads.

I’ve always thought we should take things one step further: “Charlottetown: please don’t visit, we’d like the city to ourselves.” Idiots would take it seriously; interesting and brave folks would come anyway.

Nils's picture
Nils on March 20, 2005 - 18:42 Permalink

Peter … from your mouth to God’s ear. Or, in this case, to Philip Brown’s …

I could write a lovely, subtle, almost-tongue-in-cheek-but-not-quite ad based on your idea. There is something utterly compelling about a place so special the locals don’t want the secret to get out.

In fact, I’d love to do a series of funny ads that would begin with a typical, generic, “come-visit-PEI” sequence (oh, please, couldn’t we all write these now? Start with a beach scene, crossfade to golfers on the green high-fiving over a four foot putt, cut to diners laughing merrily as the lobster is brought to the table ..) but THEN … the film snaps, the unctuous announcer is cut off in mid sentence with a dull thud … there is some sound of fumbling with a microphone .. some shaky camera work finally framing a “local” (I’d cast Rob MacDonald) who says “Uh, hi … if yez are thinkin’ of comin’ to visit us here on PEI this year, don’t bother. We’re … umm .. all full up! Yeah. All full up. And … umm … the beaches yez’ve heard about? Desp’rate bad for sharks, they are. Eat yez right up. And lobster? Well, sure, we got lobster, but … well … they’re all kinda bony. So … just stay away, OK? For God’s sake, we live here all winter, we’ve paid our dues, can you not let us enjoy the most beautiful place on earth for one lousy summer? Just one? Thank you.” Then V/O: “This message brought to you by the citizens of Prince Edward Island. A place so special … we just don’t want to share.”

Never happen, of course. But … it’s the kind of ad that would have me clicking on the website, for sure. But maybe that’s just me.

Ken Williams's picture
Ken Williams on March 20, 2005 - 23:07 Permalink

I like it Nils. How about we actually try a campaign one summer to get the least tourists — seriously. Then compare the numbers that year — and if they don’t change then stop the ad campaigns. Prove it’s effectiveness once and for all.

Or just go a year with no ads.

The question is do the ads really make any difference one way or the other? (Especially the generic hi-five golfing, lobster eating ones)

If there is no need for the campaign, the money spent on it could be put towards vacations for Islanders to go south for a week or two!

Gary's picture
Gary on March 21, 2005 - 15:15 Permalink

You’re all missing the point that the purpose of those worthless ads is not to attract tourists but to justify the salaries of the boobs in the Tourism Department. They are most likely aware of and in agreement with everything that has been said here. But they couldn’t admit that could they?
Forget the promotion. Just provide maps and reliable information on accomodation and events to those who request same.