CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE, NJ – After two summers with the U.S./Canadian border closed due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the Cape May County Department of Tourism has launched an aggressive campaign to recapture the loyal international visitors from the Provence of Quebec.
The marketing campaign, “Reconnect Canada,” made possible with funding allocated by the County Board of Commissioners via American Rescue Plan funds launched in December. The Reconnect campaign will feature radio, print, outdoor, digital, social media, and television within a 300-mile radius and target the provinces of Quebec and Ontario.
On average, Canadian travelers represent just under 10% of the total visitors to Cape May County in July and August and are the top international traveler based on survey research conducted by the Department of Tourism. More than 70% are return visitors with many second and third-generation visitors. Canadians tend to stay an average of 10 days, compared to national domestic visitors who stay an average of 3-5 days. Their two-week Construction Holiday in July allows them to exceed national travel trends.
“The border reopened in November for leisure travel and the Department of Tourism was prepared to launch a radio and digital campaign in early December to welcome them back, and to let them know we missed them and appreciate their loyalty to Cape May County. The plan was to keep the Jersey Cape top-of-mind once they were able to plan for their summer vacations to the United States”, reported Cape May County Commissioner Director, Gerald M. Thornton, liaison to the Department of Tourism.
“Never before have we had to contend with a closed border. This has added to the overall impact COVID-19 has had on our local businesses and part of the 21.1% loss in tourism revenue in 2020. Cape May County experienced record growth in 2019 with $6.9 billion in direct tourism spending. While the 2021 data has not been released, all indicators are pointing to a healthy 2021 season, the expanded marketing efforts we have put in place have resulted in seeing a return to the record numbers of 2019. We are optimistic that the return of our Canadian visitors will help us meet our recovery goals”, Thornton added.
Many other factors influence the number of Canadian visitors to the United States and Cape May County. Inflation and the exchange rate have been ongoing concerns that greatly impact the traveler such as decisions from taking a vacation, length of stay, and travel spending. Currently, the exchange rate is .79 with Canadians losing 21 cents on every U.S. Dollar exchanged. The exchange rate hovered around .75 cents in 2019, the last time Canadians could travel to the United States. COVID-19 testing requirements are another factor for those crossing the border.
“Based on available data, we estimate that visitors from Quebec to Cape May County total around 100,000 visits, spending $38.9 million, and staying 558,400 room nights, during July and August. The French-speaking Province of Quebec is our largest Canadian visitor base. The Quebecois visitor is typically a drive customer and greatly outnumber visitors from Ontario. Quebec is less than a 9-hour drive and basically a straight run down the New York Turnpike to the Garden State Parkway” explained Diane Wieland”, Director of the Department of Tourism.
“Cape May County lost $1.54 billion in direct tourism spending in 2020. The opening of the U.S./Canadian border and recapturing return and new visitors in 2022 is important in our full recovery. Our research has proven that the farther they drive the longer they stay, driving our marketing efforts beyond our reach of a few years ago. We are working harder to fill our mid-week opening through longer stays”, said Cape May County Tourism Director Diane Wieland.
Cape May County has been marketing in Canada for more than five decades. The destination has been popular for travelers from the greater Montreal region since 1968.
Vacationing Canadians migrated to Cape May County seeking great beaches and warmer ocean waters. They discovered the Wildwoods and the 40-plus campgrounds during the 70s and 80s and have since spread out to all the resort towns. Today, their impact is felt throughout Cape May County
Cape May County opened a full-time office in Montreal in 1970 and maintained that office for 25 years. At the time, it was the only county tourism office in the United States to operate an office in a foreign country. The Tourism Department contracts with a PR Consultant in Montreal on a year-round basis to promote the Jersey Cape and has generated millions of dollars in public relations for Cape May County in print, radio, and television.