PEI Businesses using funds to create winter activities in Cavendish

CAVENDISH, PEI — The popular North Shore of PEI. is being pushed by local businesses and the province to transform from a summer tourist spot to a year-round attraction.

Tourism Cavendish Beach, in partnership with other Prince Edward Island tourism associations, is offering a second round of funding through its Ignition Fund to businesses interested in supporting off-season tourism in the fall. , in winter and spring.

Darcy Butler, destination manager for Tourism Cavendish Beach, said the purpose of the fund is to encourage businesses in Cavendish to operate in some capacity during the off-season while removing some of the financial risk.

“We definitely want to extend the season, where possible, and we want to be able to increase revenue streams for our operators,” he said.

“If we can offer some sort of contribution to their business that makes it easier for them to reduce the risk of jumping in the winter or even late fall or early spring, then that’s what the bottom.”

Things to know

The Ignition Fund was created to allow businesses to explore new projects that will help develop off-season tourism. Here are some examples of these projects:

• Create outdoor amenities, including fire pits and warming stations.

• Unique dining amenities.

• Art installations.

• Theme evenings in restaurants or unusual places.

• Romantic-inspired amenities.

• Couples outdoor adventure gear.

• Unique hosting offers.

Companies interested in submitting a winter project can contact Tourism Cavendish Beach at 902-963-2078.

Uptake of this round of funding has been a little slow because winter operation doesn’t work for many businesses in the area, Butler said.

However, he said other businesses shared the desire to stay open and had used the funding creatively to extend their seasons.

One such company is Fairways Cottages, which applied for both rounds of the Ignition fund to help expand its spring and winter accommodation offering.

“These funds have allowed us to think outside the box and be creative,” said Sandi Lowther, General Manager of Fairways Cottages.

Lowther said this round they used the funding to winterize two of their cabins, allowing a private getaway for couples to experience the beauty of the North Shore during the winter.

Although the winter packages were not fully booked, due to a supply issue resulting in a delay in getting two custom spas for the chalets, Lowther said the response to providing accommodation for winter has been positive.

“Even though we didn’t have the perfect product in place for consumers, we were surprised at the demand for winterized units – pleasantly surprised,” she said.

“There is a mood among Islanders, in particular, that Cavendish closes Labor Day on Monday. This is not the case. Our second busiest month is September and now October. »

– Sandi Lowther

Lowther said the company has also made significant investments in winterizing its laundry facilities, offices and accommodations so managers can stay on to serve customers during the off-season.

She said the investments, while costly, will help extend their season and further push the area to become a year-round destination, a move Lowther hopes more businesses will embark on.

“What I love about this initiative is that as a destination we are now talking about winter,” she said.

“There is a mood among Islanders, in particular, that Cavendish closes Labor Day on Monday. This is not the case. Our second busiest month is September and now October. »

Lowther said while the number of families visiting Cavendish dwindles after the long weekend, many adults are looking for things to do in the area later in the year.

This fact was underscored by the success of the Good Tidings on the North Shore event, which saw area retailers reopen from November 6 to December 12.

“It was just amazing,” Lowther said.

“You could drive to the main corner of Cavendish and people had to park at a gas station across the road due to demand for the product. It was something new and exciting. »

Lowther said initiatives like Good Tidings and the recently announced partnership between Tourism Cavendish Beach and Parks Canada to enable maintenance of winter trails and rental of bikes and snowshoes only prove that Cavendish could become a winter destination. .

Making this change, however, will take time and effort from local businesses, tourism associations and the government, she said.

“I think there’s an opportunity over time, and I think it’s going to take time,” Lowther said.

“It won’t be an overnight success, it will take three to five years to develop our seasonality, but it’s certainly exciting as a business owner.”

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