The most beautiful villages of Quebec may well know of one of their best years in tourism, with the crisis that is prompting many canadians to rediscover their territory.
“There is hardly anything” in the accommodation of the villages, including cottages, welcomes the director-general of the Association des plus beaux villages du Québec, Jules Savoie.
“People have started to spend their vacation in Quebec, he says. The villages are ready to receive visitors. If Quebecers visiting their province, it could be better than it has ever been.”
The Association is comprised of the 40 most beautiful villages of Quebec, which are selected according to specific criteria.
Some are well known, such as Kamouraska, or Tadoussac, others a little less, as the Calixa-Lavallée or Port-au-Persil, but all have in common to bring meticulous care in the preservation of heritage.
The village of Tadoussac, on the North Coast, and its iconic hotel.
“Our members have a lot of hope for the upcoming summer season because we anticipate that the Quebecers will benefit from their Quebec”, emphasises Bernard Gaudreau, president of the Association and mayor of Neuville.
Each of these villages has experienced the pandemic differently, but efforts to attract visitors are important, ” he says.
“The concern is there for everyone, it is fair to put in place measures that will reassure people,” says Gaston Arcand, mayor of Deschambault-Grondines, in the region of Quebec.
The municipality held its tradition of the public market, as early as the end of June, with some adjustments. It welcomes all the traders who have adapted.
“I am an eternal optimist,” said Mr. Arcand. I know that people are concerned about the situation so I think they will do the maximum for it to be done in the best context possible, taking into account of the pandemic.”
Saint-Marc-sur-Richelieu, in Montérégie, in the closure of u.s. borders will encourage canadians to stay here, according to the mayor, Michel Robert.
He was hopeful of having the world this summer. The tourist season begins quietly on his side.
“There are enthusiasts of motorcycle who choose to descend by bike along the Richelieu river. We should have a nice inflow of tourists, ” he said. People are going to want to get out and go in the countryside. It’s going to discover the beautiful corners that we have in Quebec, people who were going elsewhere. It is necessary to rediscover the Quebec.”
In Kamouraska, Bas-Saint-Laurent, it is rather positive, but the uncertainty, acknowledges the mayor, Gilles A. Michaud.
“We feel that people are more cautious”, lance-t-il.
In spite of everything, the tourism starts again quietly. The pandemic has changed the plans. The municipality has just decide to open its tourist information office, as usual, is scheduled to open as early as February.
According to a recent survey, 65 % of Quebecers believe that the nuclei villagers are an important place for them, for shopping, outings or walks. Over 80 % of Quebecers believe that the crisis has negatively affected the vitality of these villages and the turnover of their businesses.
But some are concerned about the lack of international tourists
While the summer looks good for the most of the most beautiful villages, the anxiety persists for a few localities that depend to a large part of international tourism.
Mayor of Sainte-Rose-du-Nord
In Sainte-Rose-du-Nord, where the vast majority of tourists disembarking from cruise ships, the book reservation is unusually empty this year.
The mayor, Laurent Thibault, who has made the news for trying to prevent non-residents access to the village during the crisis, is not afraid that this has affected the welcoming image of her hometown.
“We are hospitable, but at the right moment”, lance-t-il, ensuring that the municipality is now ready.
The various tourist facilities are open.
Henri-Jean Vittecoq, the inn of Cape town at the Leste, in the heart of Sainte-Rose-du-Nord, don’t know if it will reopen this summer.
The village of Sainte-Rose-du-Nord on the flanks of the fjord of Saguenay.
Deserted by its european customers, which normally occupies a very large portion of his property bordering the Saguenay fjord, he wondered if the quebec customers will go for the product resort it offers.
Normally, at this time of the year, the months of July, August and September are chock full and the hostel is occupied at 95 %.
Also, the government rules and the PCU does not help at this time. He would, among other things, that the distance be reduced to one metre to allow him to run his restaurant in a profitable manner.
A lot of unknown
“This is a big question mark. I look at the beginning of July to say if it opens. Before, it’s going to be hard, ” he said. Because we’re waiting to see what will be the true standards, to see if we may not break too much the feet along with the restaurant. For example, in France, it is a meter. There, it would be all right.”
Tadoussac also, the concern that hovers in the air. The village has almost exclusively international clientele.
“We are talking about approximately 1200 employees related to the tourism… and then there is 780 residents, so it’s not just evil,” explains the mayor, Charles Breton.
“There’s a lot of labor that comes from outside, he says, a lot of students. […] The shops are really worried.”
What they said
“There are tourists who plan everything in advance and others who set off on an adventure. In the current situation, Québec will be adventurers that are going to come with us.”
Lawrence Thibault, mayor of Sainte-Rose-du-Nord
“There are traders who are optimistic. There are calls for bookings. Quebecers still have a good budget for the holidays, and often, they are going to spend abroad, so it is certain that they can compensate easily the international tourism, financially speaking.”
– Charles Breton, mayor of Tadoussac