The Canadian Press
QUEBEC – For the time being, the pandemic isn’t doing too much harm to tourism businesses. During the first months of the crisis, many were already experiencing this slack period after the holidays when Americans, like tourists elsewhere, are normally less numerous.
In Sutton, for example, March and April are two months when the ski season ends and the bike and hiking trails are closed for the thaw period. The traffic in the village decreases considerably.
“In April, 10 to 15 per cent of the clientele is American and Ontario, while in the fall, it may be 40 per cent,” says Jean-Philippe Maurice, co-owner for two years of the specialized grocery store La fameur famamée. “The impact is less significant at the moment, but if it lasts all summer, or even in the fall, it will be catastrophic. “
In 2019, 74 American visitors stopped at the Sutton tourist office in March, April and May, while between June and October, that number climbed to 581.
“Not everyone comes to the office, so the (real) numbers are higher,” said Heidi Vanha, general coordinator of Tourisme Sutton and of the Corporation for Economic Development of Sutton (CDES). “Some traders are doing well and some have more difficulty. The CDES supports them as best it can by directing them to resource people to help them during this crisis. “
Since the start of the emergency measures, the Hungry Rumor has remained open, but it has reduced its opening hours. Certain instructions have been given to clients to avoid the risks of spreading the coronavirus. The specialized grocery store located on Rue Principale for the past 20 years has also made up for this with a reduction in its staff.
In the rules
As Vermont has far fewer COVID-19 cases than Quebec, Maurice doesn’t fear the reopening of the Canada-United States border. If their return to Sutton is done in accordance with health regulations, he will welcome American tourists with great pleasure.
Maurice is also counting on progressive deconfinement, which will eventually allow Quebecers to travel across the province. This will revive the tourism industry.
The grocer observes that Quebecers are more aware than ever of the importance of consuming locally. He wants the message to be reflected in the choice of holiday destinations.
“We don’t think we will have the same results as normal, but that would keep the business afloat.”
By Cynthia Laflamme, Initiative de journalisme local/La Voix de l’Est
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