As construction holidays begin, Quebec vacationers go further afield

“They have been deprived of the joy of travel, and this year they are taking as many trips as they can.”


Chuck Rage knew that Quebecers would come back.

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When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Quebec guests canceled reservations en masse, but many told him to keep deposits for future stays at his resort in hampton beachN.H.

Now, they are back. “They love our beaches, boardwalk and shopping; we don’t have sales tax,” said Rage, who owns the Pelham Resort and a store that sells beach gear and souvenirs.

Some local businesses rely on Quebecers for up to a quarter of their summer revenue.

Canadians are also returning to Maine, said Holly Roberts of the chamber of commerce that covers York Regionan area known for its beaches, lighthouses and scenic drives.

“Not as many as we’ve had in the pre-COVID years, but it’s really nice to see them finally coming back.”

The end of most pandemic restrictions, including many cross-border travel rules, means Quebecers are packing for trips further afield after two years of staying close to home.

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Je me souviens plaques are once again ubiquitous in Ontario and the Maritimes, as well as in traditional Quebecois beach destinations such as Old Orchard and Ogunquit in Maine, and Wildwood and other Jersey shore towns.

business in Vermont they also report an increase in visitors from Quebec.

Many Quebecers will be traveling over the next two weeks during the annual construction vacation, a period when roughly 25 percent of the province’s population is on vacation.

Summer travel is almost back to pre-pandemic levels, according to a recent survey of 1,000 Quebecers sponsored by CAA-Québec, a nonprofit organization that provides roadside assistance and operates a travel agency.

“They have been deprived of the joy of travel, and this year they are taking as many trips as they can,” said CAA-Québec spokesman Nicolas Ryan.

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“The biggest takeaway from this year’s survey is that we were seeing numbers close to what we were seeing before the pandemic (in 2019), but we’re not quite there yet.”

This year:

  • 10 percent of those surveyed plan to travel to the US, up from just one percent last year, when severe border restrictions were in place.
  • 11 percent expect to head to other provinces, up from 7 percent last summer, when places like Prince Edward Island were checking vaccination evidence and conducting COVID tests at the border.
  • 15 percent of travelers plan to fly to their destination, compared to just five percent last year.
  • 45 percent expect to travel within Quebec, down from 54 percent last year, when far fewer travel destinations were available.

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Quebecers can expect longer waits at US border crossings this summer, but perhaps not as long as in 2019.

In June, 1.3 million Canadian residents returned from road trips to the US, up from 250,000 the previous year, according to Statistics Canada. But that’s still 43 percent lower than recorded trips in 2019.

Canadians traveling to other countries still face some restrictions.

For example, all travelers, whether entering Canada by air, land, train, or ship, must use the ArriveCAN application to provide your travel and COVID information. (More information is available at Tourists are also urged to check the rules in destination countries.

Although there are far fewer public health measures in place for travelers this year, there are other challenges.

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  • The average price of gasoline in Montreal was $2.17 per liter in June, compared to $1.29 in June 2019 before the pandemic, an increase of 68 per cent, according to data from Statistics Canada.
  • The cost of just about everything else is also rising, with the federal agency saying this week that the annual rate of inflation for June was 8.1 percent, the biggest increase in nearly 40 years.
  • The Canadian dollar has been weak of late, trading around 78 cents in the US, down from 80 cents last year.

The higher prices are expected to have an impact on tourism, said Steve Lyons, director of the Maine tourism board.

“I think people want to travel, but they won’t travel as often and they won’t spend as much on some of those extra things, like more expensive dining out or buying souvenirs or extra clothes or whatever.”

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Typically, 2.3 million Canadians visit Maine annually, spending around US$1.3 billion. Those numbers dropped in 2020 and 2021 due to lockdowns and border closures.

In the first half of 2022, Maine’s travel planning site saw a spike in interest among Quebecers, Lyons said, adding that local camping and tourism associations reported an increase in calls from the province.

This year, the construction holiday runs from July 24 to August 6. An estimated 80 percent of Quebec’s 190,000 construction workers hang up their hard hats during the construction holiday. Many other Quebecers choose to take their vacations at the same time.

The other 20 percent of construction workers are involved in maintenance, renovations, emergency work, civil engineering, and road works. That means drivers don’t get vacations from detours.

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Jersey shore towns like Long Branch are more likely to see Quebecers at the beach this season.
Jersey shore towns like Long Branch are more likely to see Quebecers at the beach this season. Photo by Kena Betancur /Getty Images Archives

Where are Quebecers going on vacation this summer?

  • Other region of Quebec: 45%. Quebec’s main destinations: Gaspésie (21%), Charlevoix (17%), Quebec City (14%), Laurentians (14%), Lower St. Lawrence (14%).
  • Other province: 11%. Top Provincial Destinations: Ontario (55%), New Brunswick (21%), Nova Scotia (15%).
  • United States: 10%. Top State Destinations: Florida (22%), New York (21%), Maine (20%), Massachusetts (14%), California (13%).
  • Europe: 5%. Main destinations: France (41%), Italy (24%), Spain (15%).
  • Caribbean: 2%

Source: CAA-Québec

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