Bromont sees spike in tourism despite ongoing pandemic

By Michael Boriero – Local ­Journalism Initiative Reporter
Bromont sees spike in tourism despite ongoing pandemic
(Photo : Tourism Bromont)

A wave of tourism is washing over Bromont as Quebecers scramble to find things to do and salvage a summer that was effectively written off several months ago.
“I would say that some hotels are telling me that right now they’re almost gaining back what they lost, but June was almost a washout,” said Marie Allaire, the city’s director of tourism development, adding that hotel bookings are heating up again.
In a press release Thursday, Bromont, considered the door to the Eastern Townships, addressed a sudden surge in tourists in recent weeks. With the uptick in visitors, city council decided to make the area more accommodating to the current pandemic situation.
Shefford Street was transformed into a one-way walking zone with picnic tables and access to bars and restaurants. Allaire said people could buy food or drinks and take them nearby to a park or on the street.
“It’s crazy how people do picnics this year. All of our parks are full of people picnicking; they take out and have a good experience,” she said. The city has designated certain parks for visitors to drink alcohol and eat food.
According to the director, health and safety guidelines imposed by the provincial government are being respected without any pushback. People are just happy to be on vacation somewhere, she explained.
Although people are flocking to Bromont, Allaire noted that solo sports remain one of the main attractions. There are several golf courses in the area, but the most popular option has been cycling and mountain biking.
“Cycling is big right now whether it’s road cycling, mountain biking, gravel cycling paths, it’s really huge right now,” Allaire said. “It’s also something you can do safely without interacting with others, so it’s been very popular.”
Jean-François Beaulieu, head chef and co-owner at Edgar Hyperlodge, said he’s seeing a lot of tourists from Montreal and Sherbrooke. According to Beaulieu, people are heading to the Townships to get out of COVID-19 hot zones.
They can work from their cottages or hotels, he explained, it’s all the same. Beaulieu said that business has been steady. Although it’s working at half capacity, the restaurant still churns out about 180 to 200 meals a day.
The hardest part has been policing customers. He still gets people entering the restaurant without a mask and then refusing to put one on. But half the battle was with patrons who stayed until the early hours of the morning, and the government took care of that.
“At the beginning we were closing at 3 a.m. when they said the bars could open, but the people from midnight to 3 a.m. don’t care about anything, so I think that’s the best move they did,” said Beaulieu.
The city of Bromont did a very nice job putting up health and safety signs, he added, so tourists are aware that the rules are the same everywhere. He feels safe anywhere in the city, including grocery stores. Problems only start when people start drinking, he said.
“When they come and they have no mask, we sell masks for a buck,” Beaulieu said. “If you don’t have a mask we’re going to sell it to you and if you don’t want to wear it then you’re not allowed to get in, that’s it.”
Camping is also a popular attraction for tourists. Ginette Parker, the owner of KOA Granby/Bromont, said she’s getting a lot of visitors from Sherbrooke and Montreal. She hasn’t had any issues with masks or people disrespecting the rules.
“They read the rules, they sign the papers, and they do what they have to do, they’re not in groups and follow the rules at the pool, too,” she said.
According to Parker, her campsite is a medium-sized lot, so she can’t have too many people staying there, which helps with the number restrictions. There’s enough space for everybody, she explained, and enough space to keep a two-metre distance.
She also reminds campers that there is no partying at her site, but this isn’t a COVID-19 rule. She runs a family-friendly lot, so people are expected to go back to their camps at a reasonable hour.
“We don’t allow it, after 11 p.m. you must be quiet and on the campsite, these are normal rules, so they’re used to it,” said Parker.

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