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Fewer tourists in eastern Quebec

After two “completely crazy” summers, the tourist season is off to a slower start in eastern Quebec… except in the Îles-de-la-Madeleine. A welcome “return to normal” for some, who finally have the impression of “breathing a little”.

Posted at 8:00 a.m.

Simon Chabot

Simon Chabot
The Press

“So far, it’s not been crowded, but it’s okay too, notes Joëlle Ross, General Manager of Tourisme Gaspésie. We expected it to go down. We were really lucky in eastern Quebec in the two years of the pandemic, we had very, very good summers. Completely crazy, even. »

In 2020, visitors forced to wild camp on the beaches of Gaspésie caused a stir in the region. One does not get bored of such situations there. “Reservations started very early this spring, things are going well, there are places that are full, others not, continues M.me Ross. And the important thing is not the number of visitors, but the economic benefits. If we have a few fewer people, but they stay with us longer and are happier, it’s worth more. »

A good season

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

“Everywhere on the North Shore, but also around depending on what you hear, there is a 15% to 20% drop in traffic,” assesses David Bédard, operations coordinator at Mer et monde écotours, which operates a campsite. – full for the summer – and offers sea kayaking excursions – a little less popular than for two years – in Les Bergeronnes, near Tadoussac.

The story is similar in Bas-Saint-Laurent and in Charlevoix, where the crowds are less exceptional than during the last two summers.

“We feel a slowdown,” confirms Tony Charest, general manager of SEBKA, which offers camping, climbing, hiking and sea kayaking in Saint-André-de-Kamouraska, in Bas-Saint- Lawrence.

However, this return to figures comparable to pre-pandemic summers relieves him. “It feels like taking a breather, rather than running around,” he says.

Last year, we were booked a month in advance. To be honest, surviving 15 years like this would have been unbearable. The quality of services would have suffered. We must give the world a holiday, with our labor problems…

Tony Charest, Executive Director of SEBKA

“As the construction holidays approach, most of our tourism businesses are telling us that they will not be full by the end of the summer,” said Michèle Moffet, Deputy Director General at Tourisme Charlevoix.

PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

In 2020, visitors forced to wild camp on the beaches of Gaspésie caused a stir in the region.

The weather effect

The reopening of the borders, the end of certain incentive measures, such as the Explore Québec program on-road packages (which will be back for the winter season), and the increase in the price of gas, to a certain extent, explain the decline in tourism, say observers interviewed by The Press.

But the bad weather at the beginning of the summer also played a role. “The conditions weren’t very good,” said Paul Lavoie of Tourisme Côte-Nord. People are present on the territory, but a little less adventurous, and our operators suffer. »

“It was not hot in June in Gaspésie, it was windy, rainy, but it is not because of a bad month that we are going to have a bad summer”, estimates Joëlle Ross, of Tourisme Gaspesie.

The return of Europeans in August, September and even October could have a positive impact on the rest of the season, believes Nathalie Blouin, general manager of Québec Maritime, an organization promoting Gaspésie, Côte-Nord, Bas-Saint -Laurent and the Magdalen Islands with customers outside Quebec.

Already in June, 33% of visitors to Percé came from outside the province. It’s a change from last year, when 98% of tourists were from Quebec.

Nathalie Blouin, General Manager of Quebec Maritime

For now, $500 flights in effect since 1er June do not seem to have attracted more travellers, at least on the North Shore. “This program could be very beneficial in the long term for the region, but currently, we hear more about canceled flights than crowds thanks to these tickets”, notes Paul Lavoie.

In eastern Quebec, one region stands apart and is on its way to another very busy summer: the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, where visitors sometimes have great difficulty finding accommodation or renting a car. “When we look at our figures, our summer is very similar to that of 2021: we have a lot of people,” observes Frédéric Myrand, communications officer at Tourisme Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

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