It was a profitable ski season for resorts in the Outaouais last winter, driven largely by the fact that COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and Ontarians returned in droves, a new report says.
The Association of Quebec Ski Resorts released its financial report for the 2021-2022 season Thursday, which showed that revenues at the region's ski hills increased by 44 per cent over the previous winter.
Michel Archambault oversaw the report and told Radio-Canada that increase could partially be explained by the reopening of restaurants, ski schools and retail operations after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.
The report also shows that Quebec ski resorts saw a "massive return" of visitors, especially from Ontario, he said.
"More than 27 per cent of Ontario skiers chose the Outaouais to pursue their favourite activity." he said in a French-language interview.
The report ranks the Outaouais the fourth most popular region in Quebec for skiers and snowboarders, behind the Laurentians, the Eastern Townships and Quebec-Charlevoix. The region held a 7.2-per-cent share of the Quebec market in 2021-2022, it said.
"The culture of alpine skiing is developing more and more in the Outaouais." said the association's CEO and president Yves Juneau in a statement to Radio-Canada.
"There is no doubt that the region will continue to attract a large number of skiers from the neighbouring province, thus confirming the role of ski resorts as the main winter tourist activity for the region."
Operators excited by the report
At the hills on Saturday, operators were excited about both a big recent snow dump and the good news out of the report.
"We're really excited to be the fourth most popular ski region," said Camp Fortune director Erin Boucher, noting there were about 4,000 skiers Saturday afternoon at the hill near Chelsea, Que.
"Skiing is really popular in the Outaouais. It's a really great sport [that gets] a lot of interprovincial funds as well because we're so close to Ontario. So it's a great injection into tourist dollars in the province."
At the Mont Cascades ski resort near Cantley, Que., it's the same situation.
"We receive a lot of customers from the Ottawa side, so it's helped [us compete] with the other regions of Quebec," said general manager Alexandre Leblanc.
"[In] the last 48 hours we had over 35 centimetres of new fresh snow," Leblanc said. "So conditions are great right now."