Travelers haven’t crammed into $500 tickets to fly to the four corners of Quebec since the summer season began. Nearly two months after it went into effect, the Legault government’s program had reached half of what is considered the monthly average for back-and-forth sales.
Posted at 4:54pm
“I think in terms of impact, it’s less than what we were hoping for,” notes John Gradek, an aviation expert and lecturer at McGill University. Certainly the government should have expected that the program would be in greater demand. »
Round-trip fares priced at $500 are the flagship measure of the Regional Action Support Program (PAAR), presented to great fanfare by Quebec last April. between 1ah June 25 and July 25 — a 55-day period — 7,628 subsidized round-trip fares were purchased, according to the Department of Transportation.
Quebec plans to offer 98,800 round-trip flights annually. To sell them would need to sell around 8,235 round trips per month. With an average of 4160 sales per month, the PAAR has not yet reached the speed of travel.
“We’re still in the early stages of the program,” says Isabelle Dostaler, dean of business administration at Memorial University in Newfoundland. We saw the problems at the airports. Maybe that weighs in the scales. »
It was not possible to speak to Transport Minister François Bonnardel. However, in a statement his cabinet said it was “satisfied with the reception so far of the programme”, which is in its “first phase”.
According to stakeholders consulted by The pressseveral elements can explain the slow beginnings of the PAIR.
For popular tourist destinations such as the Gaspésie and the Magdalen Islands, many travelers had probably bought their tickets long before the start of the program. Also, even if subsidized air fares are offered, you still need to find local accommodation.
Take Gaspésie and the Île-de-la-Madeleine, there weren’t many hotel rooms available because people had already planned their trips in January and February. It’s not just the plane, it’s also a question of tourism infrastructure.
John Gradek, aviation expert and lecturer at McGill University
From 2019 to 2021, the occupancy rate of accommodation establishments (hotels, motels and other registered dwellings) averaged 83% on the Gaspésie side, according to Tourisme Gaspésie. Places were limited even before the PAAR was advertised. The capacity for more tourists is therefore limited.
When traveling by plane outside of the major centers, finding a rental car can be a headache. Supply is limited and prices have skyrocketed as inflation has taken over the vehicle rental niche.
“Land transportation is a problem, emphasizes Mr.me Dostaler. If we have such a program [le PAAR], we must ensure that the tourism infrastructure goes hand in hand with this. »
Tourisme Gaspésie is aware of the situation.
“We see significant challenges at the destination, whether due to the insecurity of the rental car fleet, the taxi industry or local public transport,” emphasizes Tourisme Gaspésie Director General Joëlle Ross.
Airlines had welcomed the Legault government’s plan. After two years of the pandemic disruption, it’s still difficult to quantify the impact of $500 tickets on passenger numbers, according to Tommy Desfossés, director of business development at PAL Airlines.
In his opinion, we’ll see if the program bears fruit when the summer season is behind us.
Maybe the tourist tip will be extended. For this, however, the services must continue to be offered. For example, will restaurants continue to offer the same service? There is a shortage of skilled workers in the industry. There are several things to consider.
Tommy Desfossés, Director of Business Development at PAL Airlines
Daniel Côté, mayor of Gaspé and president of the Union of Quebec Municipalities, believes $500 tickets have attracted travelers since the beginning of the summer, although a return to the pre-pandemic situation isn’t scheduled for tomorrow.
However, the elected official who welcomed the Quebec plan believes we can do better in terms of promotion.
“We talked about it a lot on the news, but not so much after that,” stresses Mr Côté. I get asked a lot of questions like “Am I eligible?”. This is a sign that he lacks promotion. »
Who can get $500 tickets?
Montreal-Trudeau Airport, Quebec Jean-Lesage Airport or Saint-Hubert Airport must be the departure or arrival city. For example, a traveler wishing to travel from Val-d’Or to Sept-Îles would not be eligible. The Legault government plan also expands the fare reduction program for remote areas.
- Number of airlines eligible for the program: Air Canada, Pascan, Air Liaison, PAL Airlines, Air Creebec and Air Inuit.
Source: Government of Quebec
- 261 million
- Scope of the Regional Action Support Program for the next five years
Source: Government of Quebec