2013 Tourism Indicators Released Indicate Very Positive Performance for Saint John

May 21, 2015

Discover Saint John has released its 2013 Key Performance Indicators and a summary of the Tourism Industry Performance Report.  The report, commissioned by MacKellar Cunningham & Associates Ltd. provides an overview of the performance of Saint John and an analysis of the regions performance against its competitive set.

According to the report, Saint John performed exceptionally well relative to the Maritimes and reached an all-time high for tourism expenditures by visitors in the region.  Tourism is estimated in 2013 to have generated $228.5 million in direct spending from visitors to the region representing a 2.2% growth over 2012.

Ross Jefferson, Executive Director for Discover Saint John says, “We are pleased to see positive growth for Saint John, particularly in the context of a weak market environment in the Maritimes Region”.  Jefferson also says, “Although we are pleased with the results from this report, we also believe we have much further to go and we believe our region’s full potential is not yet realized as envisioned in the Region’s True Growth Strategy”

The True Growth Strategy has established three key priorities for the sector including: 1) The need for a funding mechanism and structure for supporting festivals and major events in Saint John, 2) The development of a capital investment plan and commitment towards the maintenance and further development for the region’s main attractions and demand generators, and 3) The need for incremental investment in marketing in the promotion of the Bay of Fundy with the surrounding regions and province.

Allison Fraser, Chair of Discover Saint John points to the economic contribution tourism makes to the Saint John economy.  “Each year, Saint John welcomes approximately 1.6 million visitors and collectively they spend up to just short of ¼ billion dollars annually.  This is new money for our region and it helps employ people not only in the accommodations sector but also in the food and beverage, retail, and transportation sectors”.   As one of the region’s top employment sectors, tourism is now outpacing fishing, mining and agriculture combined for employment in New Brunswick and according to the 2006 Census Data approximately 10% of the labour force within the Fundy Region is directly employed in the tourism sector.

The Tourism Industry Performance Report highlights an exceptional main season growth in room sales however it also recognizes the temporary decline in cruise visitation in 2013 and remaining challenges for the off-season visitation.

Highlights from the Report:

Maritime Provinces

In the Maritimes room sales fell by 1.4 percent with declines occurring in both main and off-season. This dropped total sales 7.1 percent below their pre-recession 2008 level. Visitation declined from both US and offshore markets. US entries were down by 3.6 percent, offshore entries declined by 7.6 percent.

Saint John

  • Total tourism expenditures in Saint John are forecast to have totalled $228.5 million in 2013. This was a 2.2 percent increase over last year’s $223.7 million and it represented a new all-time high for the city.
  • The increase in expenditures was carried by exceptional performance by Saint John main season. Main season room sales increased by 5.0 percent. They were down 2.7 percent in the province overall.
  • While year-end room sales in Saint John were up by only 0.5 percent, because of the change in mix to higher spending segments, the average (total) expenditure in the city per room sold increased by 5.5 percent from $224 to $237. This carried the overall increase in expenditures.
  • Although expenditures were up, the total number of visitors to the city is forecast to have declined slightly to 1,595,000 visitors.  The decline was due to a 2.7 percent drop in day visitors (to 925,000). The number of overnight visitors increased by 0.6 percent to 670,000.  The day visitor decline was the result of a fall in cruise visitation.
  • The modest (0.6 percent) increase in overnight visitation was led by a 1.7 percent increase in visitation by out of province Canadian visitors (to 231,000). This increase returned visitation to levels of 5 years earlier and it was very close to the 10 year high of 233,000 recorded in 2004. US and Foreign markets were also very strong with visitation increasing for the 7th consecutive year to 129,000.
  • Although the annual occupancy rate for Saint John remained unchanged at 55.8 percent, performance was very strong when viewed in competitive perspective. Saint John outperformed the 5 Maritime Cities in 7 of 12 months in 2013. Saint John was up when others were down in 4 months. Saint John was down when others were up in only one month (October). Saint John ended the year with room sales up by 0.5 percent.  Sales were down by 2.1 percent in the rest of the 5 Cities.
  • A number key performance measures were very positive in 2013. Attendance at Saint John attractions increased by 3.9 percent to 323,000 visitors. This was the highest increase among the 3 New Brunswick cities. The volume of enplaned and deplaned passengers at Saint John airport increased by 8.8 percent to 236,000. This represented a 5 year high and it was the highest increase in the Province.
  • In terms of accommodation sector performance, Saint John performed 10 percent above the Provincial average on the basis of rooms sold vs. rooms available (index: 110). 


About Discover Saint John:

Discover Saint John is a not-for-profit public-private corporation with the mandate for tourism promotion for the Saint John Region.  The key tourism objectives are influence variables leading to:

  • An increase visitation to Saint John in key tourism markets
  • Extending the average visitor’s length of stay in the region
  • Encouraging repeat visitation

In addition to Destination Marketing, Saint John Destination Marketing Inc. provides staff and management directly for the 5 visitor information centres in Saint John.

Saint John Destination Marketing Inc. is governed by an 11 member board of directors with 5 appointees from the City of Saint John, 2 members of the Hotel Association, and 4 members appointed as industry representatives.

Funding for Discover Saint John comes from a partnership with the Saint John Hotel Association, the City of Saint John, and a membership base of approximately 270 members in the areas of accommodation, food and beverage, retail, and tourism operators.

For information:

Ross Jefferson
Executive Director, Discover Saint John
Phone: (506) 658-2990

Jillian MacKinnon
Manager of Marketing & Communications, Discover Saint John
Phone: (506) 635-3471