Saint John Achieves Record Performance in 2016

May 03, 2017

Tourism Expenditures Tops $252M

Saint John, May 2, 2017 – In 2016, total tourism expenditures in Saint John are forecasted to have increased by 6.4 percent to reach a new high of $252.4M, according the Tourism Industry Performance 2016: City of Saint John, a report commissioned by MacKellar Cunningham & Associates Ltd to provide an overview of the performance of Saint John and an analysis of the region’s performance against its competitive set.

Last year, the city welcomed 5 per cent more visitors bringing the total to 1.6M visitors. Higher-spending overnight visitors to the city increased by 4.6 percent to 726,000 — the highest number of overnight visitors ever recorded by Saint John.

“We are pleased to see positive results for the Industry across the Maritimes happening in 2016 and Saint John has some terrific momentum,” says Victoria Clarke, Executive Director of Discover Saint John. “Our city was able to make gains in both the main season and what has traditionally been known as the off-season.”

“Our sales and marketing teams are focused on selling the city as a year-round destination,” says Clarke. “And in the six years since Discover Saint John’s inception our programs and campaigns have evolved and matured and we are now seeing traction and results across the board.”

Highlights of the year include:

  • In 2016, total tourism expenditures in Saint John are forecast to have increased by 6.4 percent to reach a new high of $252.4 million. This was the sixth consecutive year of increase and while past increases had been modest in Saint John (as they have been in all of eastern Canada) this was the first increase of more than 5 percent since 2008.
  • The total number of visitors to the city is forecast to have increased by 5.0 percent to 1,646,000 visitors. Of this total, the number of higher spending overnight visitors increased by 4.6 percent to 726,000. This was the highest number of overnight visitors ever recorded by Saint John.
  • The growth in visitation and expenditures was the result of recovering a large share of last year’s decline in off-season travel and by holding and increasing last year’s significant gains in main-season. This was accomplished by across the board market gains. While individual performances varied, the city was successful in increasing sales from all markets in all seasons. The strongest individual segment was US & foreign visitors in main–season (sales up 13.7 percent).
  • Performance in Saint John was up in 10 of 12 months in 2016. The city outperformed the average for all Maritime cities during 7 of the 12 months and at year’s end room sales in Saint John were up 5.8 percent which was well above the Maritime City average of 3.6 percent.
  • For the second consecutive year, the city’s strong performance held in the convention dominated months of September and October. Room sales in Saint John increased by 6.7 percent over the two months which was well above the Maritime City average of 1.1 percent and it came on top of last year’s 11.6 percent increase which was more than double the 5.1 percent increase in the five Maritime cities.
  • In terms of markets, US & Foreign visitors led gains. Visitation increased by 12.6 percent; room sales increased by 12.0 percent and expenditures increased by 9.1 percent to $57.6 million. Performance was up 13.7 percent in main season and by 7.8 percent in the off-season.
  • The non-resident Canadian market was the city’s greatest challenge in 2016. Last year room sales fell by a disastrous 18.2 percent in the off-season yet they increased by a remarkable 11.2 percent in main season (against an overall Provincial increase on only 1.5 percent). In 2016 a large share of off-season losses were recovered (up 12.9 percent) and main season was held and increased by 1.6 percent. Expenditures over the year increased by 5.2 percent to $63.7 million.
  • Overnight visitation from the New Brunswick resident market increased by 3.1 percent and room sales increased by 2.5 percent. A very strong in-province day trip market helped raise expenditures in the city to $131.1 million, a 6.5 percent increase over the previous year.
  • Other highlights of the year included a 19 percent increase in cruise visitation as compared to an increase of only 7 percent in Halifax and declines in both Cape Breton and Charlottetown.
  • In the troublesome month of July, Saint John increased its monthly occupancy rate to 77 percent, its highest reading since the year 2000.
  • Air travel remained essentially unchanged yet the volume of enplaned and deplaned passengers at the Saint John airport remained above the 250,000 mark for the second consecutive year (251,000 passengers).
  • In competitive perspective, Saint John’s 3.3 point increase in annual occupancy rate to 59 percent moved it up to rank 4th highest among the 26 tourist regions and urban destinations east of Montreal.

Source: MacKellar, Cunningham & Associates Ltd.

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.

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Media Contacts:

Jillian MacKinnon
Director of Marketing & Communications
Discover Saint John