Government launches sweet-and-sour Passport program
On June 22, the Ministry of Tourism launched its Passport Attractions program aimed at stimulating tourism in Québec. The measure is one of several the province announced on June 11 in hopes of jump-starting the tourism industry, which has been particularly hard hit by the COVID pandemic.
The Passport program offers Quebecers packages to visit Québec tourist attractions, with bigger discounts for more activities. Packages can be purchased online with a 20% discount on the regular adult admission/activity price for a passport containing two activities, 30% for three, and 40% for four.
The government covers 100% of the cost of the discount so customers get a deal while the businesses retain 100% of the revenue.
To participate, the onus is on tourism operators to partner with other businesses and submit a draft passport proposal to the government. A selection committee made up of a representative of the Ministère du Tourisme and Evénements et Attractions Québec will validate the eligibility of the application and either accept or reject it. If accepted, the package is posted on the quebecvacances.com website for purchase. Attractions can be from the same or different regions, but two activities for the same business can’t be offered in the same passport.
Information transmission about the program appears to be limited, as two of the three businesses the Bulletin contacted for a comment hadn’t heard about it. In addition, at least one of the businesses for each package must have an online platform for ticket sales, something many Pontiac operators don’t have.
However, Jim Coffey from Esprit Rafting in Davidson is excited about the possible opportunity and began contacting fellow tourism operators immediately. “We’re excited to explore the possibilities of putting a package together here in the Pontiac. We never want to turn down an opportunity to put Esprit, other local partners and the Pontiac on the tourism map,” he said.
For others, the work required, as well as the risks involved with the COVID pandemic are downfalls. In addition to submitting the application, passports have to be posted on the promoters’ websites, and one partner is responsible for issuing the tickets, claiming reimbursement for the discounts from the government, and then distributing reimbursements to their fellow partners.
“It seems complicated. We’re already up to our necks in admin, so completing more paperwork to maybe drum up some new business and draw potential guests from the “hot zones” leaves me with conflicting emotions. We’re much more in favour of promoting a Pontiac staycation, fish local, and shop local standpoint to Pontiac residents,” said Laurel Lebrun, co-owner of Bryson Lake Lodge in the TNO.
Those interested in participating can visit http://www.evenementsattractions.quebec/passeport.html for more information.