If island tourism was a prom, Cape Breton would be queen, Vancouver Island a graceful runner-up, and P.E.I. the wallflower that didn’t get any signatures in her yearbook.
In its annual reader survey, Travel + Leisure magazine—called “the bible” of the tourist trade by industry insiders—ranked the land of fiddlers and bagpipes the number one island to visit in North America. Cape Breton was also named the number three island in the world, right behind Bali and the Galapagos, beating out such high-profile destinations as Hawaii, Maui and the Maldives.
Among the Canadian contenders, Vancouver Island was close behind, coming third on the continent and 10th worldwide. But P.E.I., which ranked fourth in Canada and the U.S., didn’t place globally at all.
“It’s disappointing,” Robert Ferguson of Tourism P.E.I. conceded. “We would have loved to see Prince Edward Island as number one. But at the same time, Cape Breton Island is a fantastic destination.” Ferguson then added that the ranking is “very subjective.”
Capers don’t seem to care. Roy Cavanaugh of the tourism agency Destination Cape Breton says the ranking is no surprise. “Our culture sets us apart. Our music and our dance, our stories, our history. And I think we’ve got a very friendly and welcoming population who are particularly open to visitors.”
This is Cape Breton’s second year in a row in first place. Before that, Vancouver often held the title. “We like to be number one,” says Dave Petyk of Tourism Vancouver Island, but he still wants to congratulate Capers. He also wanted to take the opportunity to remind them that Vancouver Island is still ranked as North America’s best island destination by Condé Nast Traveller, one of the world’s most prominent luxury travel magazines.