With many businesses reopening, Montreal’s retail capital of Saint-Catherine Street is looking busier than it was two months ago.
But the battle with COVID-19 is far from over, and retail revenues coming from tourists is taking a massive hit.
“It’s devastating to a high point — you think about all the festivals, all the tourism that used to bring, from Quebec, from Canada, from outside of our country,” says Marc Fortin Quebec president with the Retail Council of Canada.
The tourism industry normally generates $4.5 billion every year to the Montreal economy. This year, it will be nowhere close to that.
“For this summer, we are not going to be able to gain that back — everything has been cancelled,” Fortin said, adding he hopes visitors from the rest of Quebec will come to Montreal to experience a tourist lifestyle.
“We’re hoping Quebecers are going to want to come to Montreal and visit, go to museums, they’re going to be open sure, there’s going to be distance in place, but you’re going to be able to participate in the city and its activates,” Fortin told Global News.
All major summer events have been cancelled until at least Aug. 31st, something that has hit the hotel industry hard.
“All that we had in bookings till the end of June has been cancelled out and we received more cancellations than bookings,” said Eve Paré, president and CEO of the Montreal Hotels Association.
Many hotels have remained open during the pandemic, with safety measures in place, Paré said. Managers are inviting locals to spend the night.
“We are open to welcome any Montrealers who want to take a break and do a little staycation, however we a still have a number of services that are still close, pools are still closed, restaurants are closed.”
Cresent Street is also normally a tourism hot spot, but this year, it’s mostly vacant.
“There are many businesses, whether it be my association or others, that really rely on tourism to get through the year,” says Steve Siozos, president of the Cresent Street Merchants Association.
The lack of tourism and the slow rollout to reopen more businesses makes it tough going for local merchants.
“In the millions, every business will lose anywhere between 25-50 per cent of their annual revenues,” Siozos told Global News.