After a rather slow start to the season, players in the Eastern Townships tourism industry are hoping for a busier summer.
Simon Proulx is the owner of Minton’s restaurant and co-owner of a food truck in Hatley, Quebec, a township in the Memphremagog Regional County Municipality. He said this spring has been a disaster for both of his businesses, and despite the easing of pandemic restrictions, things are not looking up for him yet.
“Unfortunately the season is starting very slowly. I think there are a number of factors involved, including the price of petrol, which is very high and slowing people down,” he said.
Despite this, tourism operators are confident they will see an upsurge in visitors in the coming months. The Eastern Townships are known for attracting people from outside who come to enjoy the region’s panoramic views, numerous parks and trails, heritage sites, local businesses and the abundance of outdoor recreation. air.
“We do not have precise data on the reservation rate of American customers. What we know from the past is that they arrive a little later in the summer, unlike the Ontario clientele we’ve already heard about here,” said Annie Langevin, General Manager of Tourisme Cantons- from the east.
A spokesperson for Destination Sherbrooke, the city’s municipal tourism department, shares those sentiments.
“We believe that the tourist season will be interesting, very beautiful. It’s a slow start, but that’s nothing new for Sherbrooke. Often, we see that it starts around July 5, 6, or even July 10, ”said Amélie Boissonneau.
Rely on locals
If Destination Sherbrooke affirms that sports tourism and the many festivals offered in the region should attract visitors, its objective is also to keep Sherbrooke residents in the city.
“They want to go out, so we are in seduction mode with them. Moreover, we recently launched an attraction passport campaign, a kind of package with lots of activities, to tell people to stay in Sherbrooke, because there is a lot to do. “, said Boissonneau.
Foreign visitors now represent only 5% of tourism in the region, which is why tourist operators say it is important to think about domestic tourism.
“I think during the pandemic, people in the Eastern Townships have rediscovered their region, found activities, favorite things to do that they will continue to do,” Langevin said.
“You have to remember that in the Townships, 95% of our four-season tourist clientele comes from Quebec.