FREDERICTON -- The province of New Brunswick is offering a rebate to encourage people to take a staycation this summer.

The incentive was created to help overcome the loss of tourism revenue because of the COVID-19 pandemic and to stimulate the tourism industry.

Many tourist attractions in New Brunswick are quieter than they normally would be at this time of year, so the provincial government is trying to boost traffic with a new incentive program that offers a 20 per cent rebate on staycations.

"There’s been 15 per cent occupancy in hotels or less," said Carol Alderdice, the president of the Tourism Association of New Brunswick. "It’s just been devastating -- it really has."

Refunds will be capped at $1,000 and the province has set aside $3 million for the initiative.

Alma, N.B., motel owner Linda Lindsay says the plan offers hope.

"I am very excited by this program," Lindsay said. "It really is going to incentivize people to travel in the province."

Debra Cooper is visiting from Nova Scotia and would like to see the program extended to tourists from other bubble provinces.

"We are spending quite a bit of money to be here with our cottage, souvenirs and park entrance fees so it would be nice if all Maritimers were allowed the same," Cooper said.

The province says the initiative was developed by the Tourism Labour Force Adjustment Committee, which is made up of industry representatives from various sectors, including the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick.

"We understand the province's financial situation and we appreciate the support to the industry through this travel incentive program," said Alderdice. "It will benefit our tourism operators and other economic sectors by encouraging New Brunswickers to travel more and spend time in their province this summer."

The province says there are four types of expenses they will offer rebates on:

  • accommodations (such as hotels, motels, inns, B&Bs and campsites);
  • food and drink (such as restaurants and food trucks);
  • activities (such as entrance fees to attractions, museums, art galleries, cultural events and outdoor adventure activities); and
  • travel (such as vehicle rentals, ferries and parking).

Residents can apply for the 20 per cent rebate on eligible expenses up to $1,000.

To qualify for the rebate you must be:

  • a permanent resident of New Brunswick;
  • have valid and detailed receipts from registered New Brunswick businesses; and
  • have a paid overnight stay at a New Brunswick accommodation.

A list of eligible expenses and criteria is available online.

Applications for the rebate will be available online and must be submitted between Oct.1 and Oct. 30.

Anyone with questions about the program should contact the New Brunswick Tourism Department at

Another boost to the tourism industry could be on its way.

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs recently floated the idea of opening the Atlantic bubble to people from the Gaspe region of Quebec.

"We would like to welcome folks from Quebec, but we want to make sure the health and welfare and the safety of the residents of New Brunswick is the number one priority," said Tourism, Heritage and Culture Minister Bruce Fitch.

It's still in the discussion stage so, for now, the rebate program is what officials hope will lead an economic recovery.