FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government anticipates the addition of a new paid holiday will create increased opportunity for the hospitality industry and other sectors this year.

The province’s first Family Day will be on Monday, Feb. 19.

Tourism, Heritage and Culture Minister John Ames said the long weekend will give families the opportunity to travel the province, stay in hotels, eat at restaurants and take part in outdoor activities.

“I encourage all New Brunswickers to make the most of their Family Day long weekend by taking part in community events and outdoor recreation,” said Ames. “Family Day provides an excellent opportunity to ski, snowboard, snowshoe, go snowmobiling or visit one of the province’s museums or cultural centres.”

Ames said he expects that as New Brunswick families plan their Family Day weekend activities, they will purchase skates, skis, snowboards and other gear, giving recreational retailers in the province a boost during the post-Christmas slump.

“Snowmobiling contributes $36.5 million to the New Brunswick economy each winter,” said Ross Antworth, general manager of the New Brunswick Federation of Snowmobile Clubs. “A new holiday in February means another day of great snowmobiling and the economic opportunity that goes along with it.”

The establishment of Family Day puts New Brunswick in line with eight other Canadian jurisdictions that observe a paid holiday in February, and brings the province up to the national average of eight paid public holidays per year.

“Your government recognizes that New Brunswickers work hard and deserve more time to spend with their families,” said Labour, Employment and Population Growth Minister Gilles LePage. “I am proud to be part of a government that is listening to New Brunswick families and getting things done.”

The New Brunswick Tourism Growth Strategy will invest $100 million in tourism over the next eight years, with a goal of growing tourism-related GDP to $2 billion by 2025. Tourism has been identified as a key opportunity for growth in the New Brunswick Economic Growth Plan. Tourism visitor spending is estimated at $1.3 billion, making it the third-largest service sector in the province.