Montreal

Quebec City tourism industry anticipates busy summer despite COVID-19

Although Quebec’s borders — with both its neighbouring provinces, and the United States to the south — remain closed to non-essential travel, Quebec City's hotel industry is anticipating a busy summer season.

Association expects 55 per cent hotel occupancy, up from 35 per cent last year

Hotels in Quebec City's core had a 27 per cent occupancy last summer, and the regional hotel association anticipates that number could nearly double this year. (CBC)

A Lac-Beauport hotel, about 25 kilometres northwest of Quebec City, is looking to hire more than 100 people to work the summer tourism season, despite heightened COVID-19 measures in the region. 

Julien April, who runs the Entourage sur-le-Lac hotel, is hoping to recruit staff through a virtual event with the local hotel association this weekend. 

The hotelier said 20 per cent of his rooms are already booked for July and August.

Although Quebec's borders — with both its neighbouring provinces, and the United States — remain closed to non-essential travel, April isn't the only one in the tourism industry planning ahead for a busy summer. 

Marjolaine de Sa, executive director of Quebec City's hotel association, says there are more than 400 positions to fill across the region for what she's anticipating will be a good summer despite the circumstances. 

Julien April, who runs the Entourage sur-le-Lac hotel in Lac-Beauport, is looking to hire more than 100 people for what he hopes will be a busy summer season despite COVID-19. (Carl Boivin/Radio-Canada)

She said the hotel industry always hires more people as the summer months approach, but hotels are looking to hire even more this year, to make up for the 40 per cent of staff who left the industry over the past year.

De Sa said her association is anticipating 55 per cent hotel occupancy across the territory, compared to last year's 35 per cent. 

"We expect people to travel more in the province, more than last year, because a year has passed," de Sa said. "Last year it was still new, we were still hesitant about it all, but now people are eager to travel."

She added she's hopeful the border with Ontario will reopen soon and increase the number of potential visitors to the region. 

De Sa also said hotels further from urban centres appear to be more popular.

Quebec City's central hotels' occupancy was closer to 27 per cent last year, she said, so this year's projections could mean business is nearly doubled in 2021.

Éric Bilodeau, spokesperson for Quebec City Tourism, says internet searches for travel to the region are already up from last year. 

He believes however, that much of the upcoming season's success will depend on the province's vaccine rollout.

"There were no vaccinations in the summer of 2020," he said. "Now there are a lot of people who will be vaccinated or in the process of being vaccinated, so it will improve the climate and the safety context."

With files from Radio-Canada

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