Prince Edward Island signs exclusive tourism marketing deal with NHL


Canada’s smallest province is looking to boost its tourism profile by capitalizing on the popularity of the National Hockey League.

Under a marketing agreement announced earlier this week, Prince Edward Island’s tourism agency, Tourism P.E.I., has been designated as the “official travel destination partner of the NHL.”

The provincial government is paying the league $2.5 million in the first year of a three-year deal but can opt out after Year 1 or negotiate a new deal for Year 2.

Corryn Clemence, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I., said the exclusive designation will allow the Island to use the NHL’s broadcast and social media reach to promote itself in target markets such as Ontario and New England.

“It has the potential to hit so many different sectors like meetings and conventions,” Clemence said of the campaign in an interview Thursday. “To have the prestige of the NHL really elevates what we are trying to do.”

The agreement also allows on-site promotions at arenas, and digitally enhanced ads to be shown on the dasher boards that surround NHL ice rinks, she said. As well, the league has agreed to host a business meeting on the Island and will allow the province to use the NHL logo with its own tourism branding.

Clemence said the fan convention at the recent NHL All-Star Weekend in Toronto featured a Tourism P.E.I. booth, adding that Tuesday night’s television broadcast between the Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning included promotions for visiting the province.

She said her organization, which represents about 450 tourism operators in the province of about 175,000 people, discussed the idea with the NHL about 18 months ago and formal talks on a deal were then taken over by the province.

Clemence says the agreement can bolster P.E.I.’s tourism sector, which is one of the top three industries on the Island along with agriculture and the fishery, and provides millions in tax revenues to the provincial government.

“It’s really important for us to be very strategic with any initiatives we take on because we need to see that return for our industry but also for the Island economy.”

Brodie O’Keefe, director of operations and industry investment with Tourism P.E.I., said the Crown corporation’s annual marketing budget is $5.5 million and the funding for the agreement with the NHL is a separate allocation.

O’Keefe responded to some of the criticism of the deal from those who say the province is spending millions on marketing with the NHL while there are housing shortages and emergency room closures on the Island.

“Visitors to P.E.I. generate tax revenues of approximately $85 million each year,” he said. “That money goes back to the government so they can use it to support other departments and other programs.”

Sergio Carvalho, a marketing professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, says he thinks the deal can be effective at increasing tourism dollars because of the NHL’s ability to increase fan awareness of P.E.I.

“They are allowing the prestige of the NHL brand to be transferred to the P.E.I. brand,” said Carvalho. “If the tourism team from the province knows how to work this well they can maximize this.”

He said the agreement has the potential to see returns that are several times its face value and will have a “long term effect” for the province.

“I think $2.5 million for a deal like this with such a prestigious brand in North America is a very good deal,” Carvalho said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 15, 2024.


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