The CBC is reporting that [t]ourism numbers down again on Prince Edward Island this summer. And like last year, the air is thick with speculation as to why.
But here’s a thought: what if tourists visit Prince Edward Island “just because.” What if they don’t pay attention to advertising or marketing or the weather. What if it’s not about “effective golf packaging” or “powerful family-themed vacation opportunities?” What if it’s not about the 1-800 number or the website or the ease of the bridge or the romance of the ferry?
What if tourism on Prince Edward Island is mostly just the result of a whole bunch of irrational, unpredictable, largely non-influencable decisions? And so sometimes lots of people come, and sometimes not so many.
Or what if the more we try to make people visit, the less likely they are to do so.
I’ve no evidence to suggest that either of these theories is correct. But it seems to me that we’re shoveling a lot of money into tourism marketing and advertising and packaging based on a largely untestable assumption that it has a chance of actually working.
So here’s my idea: let’s take a year off. Shut off the website. Stop the TV commercials. Pull the colour supplements from the Toronto Star. Cancel the subsidized rock concerts and golf tournaments.
And see what happens.
Maybe people would visit anyway. Just because.