(Montreal) For auto racing fans who roam downtown Montreal to check out the luxury vehicles and enjoy the festive atmosphere surrounding the return of the Formula 1 Grand Prix, this weekend is especially important.
Posted at 9:41 am
“It feels like 2019, we are back to normal,” said Alfredo Monsivais, a Montrealese he met while admiring a green Alfa Romeo on display in Peel Street on Thursday afternoon.
Sunday’s race will be the first Canadian Grand Prix in three years since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the previous two events.
The days leading up to the race are always special, emphasizes the co-owner of the Chez Delmo restaurant in Old Montreal, Benoit Dessureault. After the long Montreal winters, the race officially marks the start of summer activities for him.
“It’s almost like coming out of hibernation,” he said in an interview Thursday. We see this festive crowd arrive, well dressed, with money to spend and say, “Wake up Montreal, it’s time to party!” ”
A great price is also good for business, acknowledges the restaurateur. On a regular evening, Chez Delmo serves around 70 customers in its 60-seat dining room. But in this long F1 weekend, around 150 guests will parade every night.
“The average account value is increasing, we sell more champagne, there is more alcohol consumption, we sell more luxury goods, wine, etc.”, lists the entrepreneur. It is the second best time of the year after New Year. ”
This grand F1 comeback is also a delight for the metropolis’s hotel establishments, as Jean-Sébastien Boudreault, CEO of the Greater Montreal Hotel Association points out.
” [Pendant la pandémie], there were months when our occupancy rate hovered around 5%, he recalled Thursday. It was extremely difficult for our hosts. ”
This weekend, he said, occupancy rates will reach 96%, and the average price for overnight stays is around $ 500.
The Grand Prix is one of the busiest weekends of the summer, as are those at the start of the International Jazz Festival and Osheaga.
However, this vacation is not without taxpayer costs. In 2017, the three levels of government announced investments of $ 98.2 million to keep the event in Montreal until 2029. This agreement was extended for two years in 2021 in order to make up for bids canceled due to the pandemic. . Quebec and Ottawa, however, had to extend an extra 51 million.
According to Moshe Lander, who teaches economics at Concordia University, despite the Grand Prix being a “big event,” he believes its financial impact is overstated.
While the rush may result in an increase in economic data for some, the total impact would remain rather small compared to the economy of the city as a whole, he said.
“If F1 wasn’t there, it’s not like any tourists would have come to Montreal,” he said. It would just be a different group of tourists. ”
He adds that hotels are always very busy in Montreal in the summer, which means that when people come for F1, they only take the place of other visitors who would come to see the city’s arts or attend a cultural event.
Crossing Crescent Street, Stephannie Urrutia, who was walking with her mother Ingrid Estrada, both dressed in Ferrari colors, simply said she was happy to see people again and the return of a sport she loves.
“It’s really good to have him back after a pandemic,” he said.