Sunday’s Montreal Grand Prix mark returns to normal for fans and tourism

This weekend wasn’t immediately for racing enthusiasts, checking out luxury cars in downtown Montreal and enjoying a celebration to celebrate the resurrection of the Canadian Grand Prix.

“It feels like it’s back to normal, like 2019,” said Alfredo Moncivice, who lives in Montreal and praised the green Alfa Romeo on Thursday afternoon.

The race on Sunday will be the first Grand Prix in Montreal in three years after two pandemic-related cancellations.

Benoit Dessureault, co-owner of Old Montreal restaurant Chez Delmo, said the days around the race weekend were always special. After a long winter in Montreal, the race marks a resurgence of summer activity.

“It’s like waking up after hibernation,” he said Thursday. “It’s a party-like, well-dressed crowd of the festival, and you can spend your money saying,’Wake up Montreal and it’s time for the party.’ “

He said racing is good for business. On a typical night, his 60-seat restaurant serves about 70 customers. On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays before the Grand Prix, he serves about 150 people overnight.

“The average per plate is high, champagne is high, alcohol consumption is high, there are expensive products and wines, etc. It’s the second biggest sales night since New Year’s Eve,” he said.

The revival of the race, the only Canadian stop on the Formula One circuit, has “extremely excited” hotel owners in the city after two years of extremely difficult years, the Greater Montreal Hotel Association said. The head of the race, Jan Sebastian Budrow, said.

“There was a month when we had an occupancy of about 5 percent,” he said Thursday. “It was very difficult for the hotel owner.”

According to him, hotel room rates this weekend are around 96%, averaging about $ 500 per night.

“I think hotel owners are happy because the hotel is full. They will have a lot to do this weekend, but life will resume and the pandemic will appear to be behind us. Everyone is happy, “he said.

The Grand Prix is ​​one of the busiest times in the hotel industry, alongside the first weekend of the Montreal International Jazz Festival and the Osheaga Music Festival.

The party comes at the expense of taxpayers. In 2017, the city, state and federal government announced that they would spend $ 98.2 million to maintain the race in Montreal until 2029. The transaction was extended to 2021 and the federal and state governments in 2031.

Moshe Lander, a professor of economics at Concordia University in Montreal, said the Grand Prix is ​​a “great event” but believes its economic benefits are exaggerated.

The race may provide a boost to a particular business, but he said it is relatively small in terms of the city’s overall economy.

“If F1 wasn’t here, it wouldn’t mean that tourists wouldn’t come to Montreal,” he said Thursday. “It will just be another gathering of tourists.”

In Montreal in the summer, hotels are always busy, he said, when tourists come to F1, they are only replacing other tourists visiting the city for art and culture.

Stephanie Ultia, who went out with her mother Ingrid Estrada on Crescent Street in downtown Montreal, both wore Ferrari racing team shirts and watched people to see the resurgence of the sport they enjoyed. He said he was happy.

“It’s really great to have this after a pandemic,” she said.

Jacob Celebrin

Canadian press