In its 70th edition, the Quebec Carnival and its partners pulled out all the stops to attract tourists to the national capital from January 25 to February 11.
The duration of the event was extended from 10 to 18 days and the number of participants increased by 30%. The company employs 40 people who work all year round, but for a few weeks it turns into one of the largest companies in Quebec.
“In field mode, around 1,000 people are deployed, half of them are volunteers,” admits the general director of the Quebec Carnival, Marie-Ève Jacob.
The carnival has a budget of $16 million. An increase of 7 million compared to the previous year.
This increase was made possible by funding and new private sponsors, but also by increasing sales revenue in recent years.
Quebec business card
Bonhomme Carnaval is not afraid to travel to promote its carnival, and tourists are clearly receptive to its charms.
During the 2020 edition, 450,000 people took part in the carnival activities. More than 50% of these visitors were travelers. “Americans made up 15% of the traffic, 14% were Quebecers, 13% came from the rest of Canada and 12% came from other countries. “Especially French-speaking Europeans,” says Ms. Jacob.
According to the latest study in 2018, the economic benefit was $16 million. “The event has grown since then, so we expect the economic benefit to exceed that amount this year,” she estimates.
For its part, the region's tourism office, Destination Québec Cité, launched its “largest winter marketing campaign in its history” a few months ago.
“The Americans are there and we expect a good turnout from Canadians and French,” says the tourism organization’s general director, Robert Mercure.
“We believe the American market is very strong. We see this in our advance sales statistics. Canadians, especially Ontario residents, also seem very interested.”
— Marie-Ève Jacob
The Quebec Region Hotel Association (AHRQ) is also feeling this enthusiasm for the winter event.
According to AHRQ Director General Alupa Clarke, at the time of writing, Quebec hotels had a reservation rate of 42% for the entire duration of Carnival.
“And on weekends, rooms are 64% occupied on February 2nd and 3rd and 61% occupied on February 9th and 10th. On Friday February 9th we have reserved 70% of the rooms. Last year, Quebec was the number one destination in Canada in terms of occupancy during Carnival. We expect similar or higher numbers,” he says happily.
Extend the party
To celebrate his birthday in style, Bonhomme saw his carnival program expanded to include numerous activities.
“That’s one of the reasons why we extended the duration of the carnival. Our attendance rate was already very high. We wanted to avoid overloading the various locations. By extending it by a week, tourists but also locals can enjoy it better,” explains Marie-Ève Jacob.
The extension by one week was also a request from various economic and tourism players.
“January is a slower month for hoteliers. This allows us to increase our sales and maintain full-time positions.”
If the decision falls on the Quebec carnival, the director of Destination Quebec, Robert Mercure, hopes to convince them to anchor the new duration of the event in time.
“We want to stand out and become a must-see winter destination in North America. We therefore need to offer off-peak activities and have chosen the last week of January to extend the tourist season,” he explains.
The economic benefit and attendance rate study will provide a large part of the answer.
The effigy sells for $30 plus tax.