Leaning on the display of his Inuit art gallery, Le Chariot, in the heart of Old Montreal, Samuel Namour never ceases to wait for customers. But a few hours before the opening of Canadian borders, on September 7, to all double-vaccinated international travelers, he comes to life: “Finally, the French will come back! “ French tourists (500,000 in Montreal in 2019) normally represent more than 40% of its clientele. “They are loyal and amateur customers, they are going to save us”, affirms the one who is not little proud to have sold, a few years ago, to a renowned Frenchman, ex-president Jacques Chirac, no less than nine sculptures of native art.
A few steps away, in the Old Port, the historic building of the Bonsecours market, a tourist hotspot with its Quebec craft shops, still looks sad: iron curtains down on stores that have been shut down. the door, restricted opening times for those who are still holding out.
Dora Urena, owner of Arts en Mouvement Québec, a local souvenir stall, sees fifteen clients pass by per day, when she had more than a hundred in her previous life. “Canadians from Ontario, British Columbia and the eastern Maritime provinces have allowed us to survive this summer. But the Americans [autorisés à entrer au Canada depuis le 9 août] were not there. “ She waits without much illusions for the return of European tourists. “They are not all going to take the plane on September 7. Which means that the 2021 season is already behind us, winter, the off-season, is coming so quickly here. “
Increase in bookings
Yves Lalumière, CEO of Tourisme Montréal, a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the Quebec metropolis internationally, prefers to see the glass half full. “We still have one knee on the ground, but we had both a few months ago “, he rejoices, betting on the revenge travel (which could be translated as “revenge trip”) tourists frustrated by the past two years. He is already seeing a sharp increase in hotel reservations for the coming months.
Its short-term objective: to let people know that Montreal – “Better than a city, an island”, he specifies to underline its attractiveness – is now ready to welcome travelers, French in particular, in complete safety; by April, he also hopes to convince airlines to reestablish all their direct Paris-Montreal links, as well as lines departing from major regional metropolises such as Lyon, Bordeaux or Toulouse.
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