Montreal tourism expected to boom as Canada-U.S. border reopens
MONTREAL -- In March of 2020, tourism in Montreal came to a standstill.
Non-essential travel to and within Canada was put on hold in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, with great consequences for Montreal’s hotels and tourist attractions.
With the return of inter-provincial travel, the industry has begun its recovery — but the reopening of the Canada-U.S. border on Aug. 9 is expected to boost things along even more.
“Of course this is good news for the tourism industry in Montreal and Canada in general, because we’ve been waiting for 16 months [as] the borders have been closed,” says Francis Bouchard, a spokesperson for Tourism Montreal.
After the July 19 announcement that the border would reopen in August, the Tourism Montreal website is gaining traction among American users, according to Bouchard.
Montreal has long been a popular travel destination for Americans, especially for states near the Quebec border.
On Monday, Montreal was promoted on the U.S. television program Good Morning America, in a segment about the border’s reopening.
"Americans have to go through a bit of a process to come visit, but once they get here, there is so much to see, especially in Montreal," said Good Morning America reporter Will Reeve on the program.
Strolling through the streets of Old Montreal, he added, “Montreal is unique here in North America — it’s Canada, but it feels like Europe, and it’s pretty close to the U.S.”
A BURST OF BOOKINGS
The growing demand for Montreal tourism is already being reflected in the reservation books, said Bouchard.
"We see a lot of last-minute bookings in Montreal, but already in the coming weeks [and] coming months, it’s piling up."
This sentiment is echoed by Laura Pallotta, vice president of sales and distribution at Marriott Hotels Canada, who says that Marriott hotels across the country have had "more than three times the occupancy on the books for Labour Day relative to Canada Day."
Demand is on the rise for Montreal and Quebec City, as well as resort markets like Mount Tremblant, Mount St. Anne and the Eastern Townships, said Pallotta.
“[We’re] starting to see positive momentum, especially over the last 30 days with consumer sentiment around propensity to travel increasing.”
The same is true for Montreal’s Botanical Gardens, one the city’s iconic tourist attractions. Ticket sales have doubled in the last two days alone, said director Anne Charpentier.
“It's very exciting for us because we hope that it will [continue] augmenting for the next days and weeks, until the rest of the summer, and that we will recover the kind of attendance we had a few years ago."