Grand Prix: a tsunami of tourists, but who will welcome them?

Montreal restaurants and hotels are expecting record tourist numbers for the F1 weekend, causing a headache for an industry struggling to relieve bottlenecks.

• Also read: The big F1 circus is back in Montreal

“It’s funny to say, but we’re very scared,” says Carlos Ferreira, owner of Ferreira Café, Rue Peel.

His restaurant, always very busy during the Grand Prix weekend, will see up to 40% fewer customers this year due to staff shortages. He has to turn down more bookings than ever.


Carlos Ferreira admits to being very concerned about the arrival of the Grand Prix due to the lack of staff.

Photo Chantal Poirier

Carlos Ferreira admits to being very concerned about the arrival of the Grand Prix due to the lack of staff.

“We’ve never put as much energy into it as we have this year,” he said of planning his biggest weekend since 2019, F1’s last passage in the city because of the pandemic.

Despite his best efforts, he is haunted by the prospect of a COVID outbreak that would force the few employees he has to be absent during these crucial days.


The Ritz-Carlton Hotel's Katia Piccolino is hoping her less experienced team can deliver five-star service.

Photo Pierre Paul Poulin

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel’s Katia Piccolino is hoping her less experienced team can deliver five-star service.

“Record” inflow expected

The same story on the site of the Auberge Saint-Gabriel, where we have been preparing for this weekend for six months.

“If I had had two hostels that Saturday, I could have filled them,” explains sales manager Anne-Marie Hinse.

According to Tourisme Montréal, this unprecedented demand from the tourism industry is no coincidence.

“I think there will be a record number of traffic figures this year, predicts their CEO, Yves Lalumière. It’s long in advance [que les autres éditions] that the city is full.”

This was felt on the side of the luxury Ritz-Carlton, which has not had a room available since March, even though the property, like several hotels, requires a four-night minimum per reservation for this weekend.

Unsurprisingly, the lack of staff for such an event is a major problem in the tourism industry.

At the Ritz-Carlton, we’ve managed to recruit enough people, but the challenge will be to deliver the five-star hotel experience.

“There are many new ones,” says Katia Piccolino, Director of Sales and Marketing. It’s going to be a little more difficult.”

Dissolve employees… and alcohol

Alcohol in general, but champagne in particular, seems to be another particularly rare commodity this year.

“We have someone who has been searching for alcohol full-time for the past few months,” says Mme Hinse. We’re always told there aren’t any, and finding any is almost random.

The industry can still be happy about this strong comeback of tourists after two catastrophic years.

“This is essential in Montreal. We really need it,” said M.me Hinse.

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