After two “crazy” summers, the tourist season is starting more slowly in eastern Quebec… except in the Îles-de-la-Madeleine. A welcome “return to normalcy” for some who finally feel like they are “taking a breather”.
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“So far it hasn’t been overcrowded, but it’s okay, too,” notes Joëlle Ross, General Manager of Tourisme Gaspésie. We expected it to sink. We’ve been really lucky in the two years of the pandemic in eastern Quebec, we’ve had very, very good summers. Completely crazy even. »
In 2020, visitors forced to wild camp on Gaspésie’s beaches caused a stir in the region. You don’t get bored in such situations. “Reservations started very early this spring, things are going well, there are places that are full and others that aren’t,” continues M.me Horse. And the decisive factor is not the number of visitors, but the economic benefit. If we have a few fewer people who stay with us longer and are happier, it’s worth more. »
A good season
“What we are seeing at the moment is stronger than 2019, but certainly less than 2021,” notes Paul Lavoie, Director General of Tourisme Côte-Nord.
“Everywhere on the north coast, but also in the surrounding area, depending on what you hear, there is a 15 to 20 percent drop in traffic,” estimates David Bédard, operations coordinator at Mer et monde écotours, which runs a campsite – full for the summers – and is offering sea kayaking trips – a little less popular than it has been for the last two years – at Les Bergeronnes near Tadoussac.
The situation is similar in Bas-Saint-Laurent and in Charlevoix, where the crowds are less exceptional than in the last two summers.
“We are feeling a slowdown,” confirms Tony Charest, managing director of SEBKA, which offers camping, climbing, hiking and sea kayaking in Saint-André-de-Kamouraska in Bas-Saint-Lawrence.
However, this return to numbers comparable to pre-pandemic summers relieves him. “It feels like taking a breather instead of running around,” he says.
Last year we were booked a month in advance. To be honest, surviving like this for 15 years would have been unbearable. The quality of the services would have suffered as a result. We must give the world a holiday, with our work problems…
Tony Charest, Managing Director of SEBKA
“With the construction holidays approaching, most of our tourism businesses are telling us that they will not be full by the end of the summer,” said Michèle Moffet, deputy general manager of Tourisme Charlevoix.
The weather effect
The reopening of borders, the end of certain stimulus measures such as the Explore Québec program’s on-road packages (which will be available again for the winter season) and gas prices that have increased to some extent explain the drop in tourism, say observers polled The press.
But the bad weather at the beginning of 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 as a result. »
“June wasn’t hot in Gaspésie, it was windy, rainy, but it’s not because of a bad month that we’re 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, executive director of Québec Maritime, an organization that promotes Gaspésie, Côte-Nord, Bas-Saint-Laurent and the Magdalen Islands with customers outside of Quebec.
Already in June, 33% of visitors to Percé came from outside the province. That’s a change from last year, when 98% of tourists came from Quebec.
Nathalie Blouin, Managing Director of Quebec Maritime
For now, $500 flights have been in effect since June 1ah June doesn’t seem to have attracted more travelers, at least on the North Shore. “This program could be very beneficial to the region in the long term, but for now, thanks to these tickets, we’re hearing more about canceled flights than crowds,” notes Paul Lavoie.
In eastern Quebec, one region stands out and is poised for another very busy summer: the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, where visitors sometimes have great difficulty finding accommodation or renting a car. “If we look at our numbers, our summer is very similar to that of 2021: we have a lot of people,” notes Frédéric Myrand, Communications Officer at Tourisme Îles-de-la-Madeleine.