Tourism Prince Edward Island and the National Hockey League have entered into a three-year marketing partnership that will see the Island branded as the NHL's official travel destination.
The provincial government is paying the NHL $2.5 million for the first year of the agreement, which will give P.E.I. access to the league's marketing machine.
The attractions of a trip to Prince Edward Island will receive broadcast exposure, beginning when the Bruins host the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday night in Boston, one of the markets the tourism industry has identified as a target.
"We are a world-renowned travel destination. [The NHL has] seen the opportunity, the beauty, they know the Island hospitality, and they just wanted to come and be part of it," said Brodie O'Keefe, director of operations and industry investment with Tourism P.E.I.
"It's something different; it's a new market for them. It's not your downtown Toronto or downtown New York."
Tourism P.E.I.'s booth at the 2024 NHL Fan Fair during All-Star weekend in Toronto impressed league officials, though talks had been in the works between the NHL and the province for about a year and a half. (Submitted)
In addition to provincial tourism branding being displayed on arena boards and video screens during NHL game broadcasts, the partnership also allows the province to use the NHL logo alongside Tourism P.E.I. branding.
The league will host some business meetings and summits on the Island, and will promote travel to the province across its network, website, apps and social media platforms.
Province bumped up tourism budget
Tourism P.E.I.'s annual marketing budget is $5.5 million, and the province approved this $2.5 million for the NHL deal over and above that.
The province will have a chance to back out of the deal after the first year, or negotiate a new deal for year two if it feels the experiment was worth the investment.
'Word’s out there of how great Prince Edward Island is,' says Brodie O’Keefe, director of operations and industry investment with Tourism P.E.I. (P.E.I. government)
"We have to spend money to make money," O'Keefe said. "The tourism industry in Prince Edward Island generates $85 million in tax revenue, which comes back to the province [and] can be used to support other sectors across our government and across the Island."
This idea was actually kickstarted about 18 months ago when the NHL reached out to the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I., or TIAPEI, to gauge interest in a marketing partnership.
That eventually led to a Tourism P.E.I. booth at a fan convention during the recent NHL All-Star weekend in Toronto, where Island marketers impressed the league with local products like Cows ice cream and the opportunity for fans to fire hockey pucks at lobster traps.
'The potential is endless'
TIAPEI chief executive officer Corryn Clemence said the goal of the partnership is to promote the tourism industry in markets like Ontario and New England.
Corryn Clemence, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I., says the partnership will promote the Island in target markets like Ontario and New England. (Steve Bruce/CBC)
"This is huge," she said. "We all know how prestigious and how big the NHL brand is … so to become the official travel destination partner of the NHL, it passes on that level of prestige and brand awareness to us. The potential really is endless."
Tuesday night's game broadcast in Boston will feature plenty of P.E.I. content, with the restaurant in TD Garden serving up a locally sourced menu, oyster shucking, and an appearance by Prince Edward Islander Adam McQuaid, a former Bruin.
"Word's out there of how great Prince Edward Island is, and they [saw] the opportunity to come and partner with us on it," O'Keefe said. "We are the first-ever official travel destination of the NHL."