August 12, 2022

The Queens County Citizen

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Eastern Quebec has fewer tourists

Eastern Quebec has fewer tourists

After two “absolutely crazy” summers, the tourist season is off to a slow start in eastern Quebec… except for the Îles-de-la-Madeleine. Finally welcome to “get back to normal” for some who feel “a bit out of breath”.

Posted at 8:00 am

Simon Chabot

Simon Chabot
Press

“So far, it’s not crowded, but that doesn’t matter either, stated Joël Ross, General Manager of Tourism Gaspésie. We expected to decrease. In the two years of the pandemic we were really lucky in eastern Quebec, we had a very good summer. Totally crazy, too. »

In 2020, visitors were forced to wild camp on the beaches of Gaspé, causing a stir in the region. No one gets bored with such situations there. “Reservations started early this spring, things are going well, there are full places, others are not, M.me Ross and the important thing is not the number of visitors, but the financial benefits. The less people we have, the longer and happier they stay with us, the more valuable it is. »

Good season

“What we see at the moment is stronger than 2019, but certainly less than 2021,” points out Paul Lavoie, general manager of Tourisme Côte-Nord.

“Everywhere on the north coast, but depending on who you listen to, there’s a 15% to 20% drop in traffic,” estimates David Bedard, operations coordinator at Mer et Monde Ecotours, which runs the campsite. Summer – and offers sea kayaking excursions – is slightly less popular than two years – in Les Bergeronnes near Tadoussac.

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The story is similar in Bas-Saint-Laurent and Charlevoix, where crowds are lower than in the past two summers.

Tony Charest, general manager of SEBKA, which offers camping, climbing, hiking and sea kayaking in Saint-Andre-de-Comourasca in Basse-Saint-Laurence, confirmed.

However, he is relieved that it has returned to figures comparable to the summer before the pandemic. “It feels more like breathing than running around,” he says.

Last year, we booked a month in advance. To be honest, living like this for 15 years is unbearable. Quality of services will suffer. Let the world rest with our labor problems…

Tony Charest, Sebka Executive Director

“As the construction holidays approach, we are told that most of our tourism businesses will not be full by the end of the summer,” said Michel Moffet, Deputy Director General of Tourism Charlevoix.

Photo by Hugo-Sebastian Aubert, La Presse Archives

In 2020, visitors were forced to wild camp on the beaches of Gaspé, causing a stir in the region.

Weather influence

The reopening of borders, the end of some incentives like the Explore Quebec program on-road packages (which will return for the winter), and the increase in gas prices, to some extent, explain the decline in tourism, observers interviewed said. Press.

But bad early summer weather also played a role. “The conditions are not very good,” said Paul Lavoie of Tourisme Côte-Nord. People are on the territory, but a little less adventurous, and our operators are suffering. »

“It’s not hot in Gaspésie in June, it’s windy and rainy, but we’re going to have a bad summer because of a bad month,” predicted Joel Ross of Tourisme Gaspésie.

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The return of the Europeans in August, September and October will have a positive effect on the rest of the season, said Nathalie Blouin, general manager of Quebec Maritime, which promotes Gaspé, Côte-Nord, Bas-Saint-Laurent and Magdalen. Islands with consumers outside Quebec.

Already in June, 33% of visitors to Persey came from outside the province. This is a change from last year when 98% of tourists came from Quebec.

Nathalie Blouin, General Manager of Quebec Maritime

Currently, flights from 1 to $500 are in effecter June doesn’t seem to attract many travelers, at least on the North Shore. “This program will be very beneficial to the region in the long run, but right now, we hear more about canceled flights than overcrowding because of these tickets,” Paul Lavoie said.

In eastern Quebec, one region stands out and is headed for another very busy summer: Îles-de-la-Madeleine, where visitors sometimes have great difficulty finding accommodation or renting a car. “When we look at our statistics, our summer will be the same as in 2021: we have a lot of people,” points out Frédéric Myrand, communications officer at Tourisme Îles-de-la-Madeleine.