FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government today officially launched the summer tourism season with an announcement aimed at boosting the tourism industry.

With recent details on the provincial reopening plan, the Explore NB Travel Incentive program will be extended to visitors from the Atlantic provinces when the reopening of the provincial borders allows.

“With our reopening plan in place, I am optimistic this will be a great tourism season, for both New Brunswickers and our tourism industry,” said Tourism, Heritage and Culture Minister Tammy Scott-Wallace. “I could not be prouder of what the industry has accomplished over the past year, and how patient everyone has been throughout the pandemic. We all deserve an unforgettable summer and we can not wait to welcome our Atlantic neighbours to join us.”

The Explore NB Travel Incentive program provides a 20 per cent rebate on eligible expenses of up to $1,000 that are made while making an overnight stay in New Brunswick. Travel can take place between May 27 and Oct. 31 and applications will be open from July 5 to Nov. 30.

“We are extremely pleased to see the Explore NB Travel Incentive Program renewed this year,” said Carol Alderdice, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick. “This is a program that was recommended by industry and developed by the provincial government last year and was welcomed by both industry and residents. It helped support our tourism operators and provided an opportunity for our residents to truly explore and appreciate this beautiful province.”

In April, the department also launched the Fish & Hunt promotion to support New Brunswick outfitters. The program provides participating outfitters with a 20 per cent rebate on all hunting and fishing packages they sell, allowing them to offset their prices. All experiences must take place between April 15 and July 15 and include at least two nights accommodations.

All nine provincial parks are open for the season. The department worked hard to open them on time to make camping spaces available after New Brunswickers came out in record numbers last year.

To further support the tourism industry, the department has released RSVP: A plan for renewal. A path to recovery, a formal tourism recovery and growth plan developed with the industry. The plan sets out a path to support the tourism industry to the end of the pandemic.

“With the help of New Brunswickers, we will work to re-energize our private sector, regain our momentum and create the necessary conditions for growth and a lasting recovery,” said Scott-Wallace. “We all deserve a fun-packed summer. I encourage everyone to safely get out and find your moment in our beautiful province over the next few months, whether it’s by the campfire with friends, on our stunning trails, at a beautiful hotel or inn, or at your favorite restaurant.”

Tourism employs between 30,000 and 40,000 people and contributes more than $520 million to the province’s annual GDP.