MONTREAL -- The government is enhancing the Quebec tourism program "Explore Quebec sur la route", which aims to stimulate tourism in the province by offering discounts to Quebecers.

In the Montreal region, which was hard hit by the loss of tourism dollars during the COVID-19 pandemic, half off packages are being offered starting Saturday to those staying in the metropolis.

For other regions, discounts will be increased from 25 per cent to 35 starting Sept. 1, in the hope of helping to extend the tourist season in Quebec.

A news release issued Saturday morning by the office of the Minister of Tourism added that the minimum duration of packages offered will go from two to one night.

"This change will particularly help the major centres, where stays are generally shorter," the release reads.

"The adjustments will help increase economic benefits and tourism spending for our businesses and regions, particularly those in major centres, by encouraging the extension of the summer season," said Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx.

"I strongly encourage Quebecers to discover or rediscover our magnificent territory and to participate in our tourism recovery."

In addition, the Explore Quebec program, which was set to end on Dec. 31, 2021, is being extended for two years.

It will end on March 31, 2023 or when the $10 million budget is exhausted.

The sale of the packages is allowed until March 31, 2023 and stays must be completed by December 31, 2023.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 19, 2021.