Call for proposals

Four calls for proposals will be held per year, in February, May, July and September. 

First call for proposals

The interested agencies have from January 20 to February 28,  2020 at 5 p.m., to submit a competitively priced package proposal. The selected packages will be offered to consumers at a reduced rate through an Explore Québec grant that is being provided to stimulate sales.

Context

Access to affordable air transportation is a major issue in Québec and one of the biggest challenges for the tourism industry. Because of this, the Ministère du Tourisme is establishing a program that will facilitate tourist access to Québec's remote tourist regions by promoting competitively priced packages. It thus wishes to Increase tourism in the targeted regions and their bordering regions.

The Explore Québec program consists of offering tourists a reduction ranging between 25% and 50% of the cost of an air fare to a destination in Québec’s remote regions, purchased under packages created by selected Québec travel agencies, tour operators and hosting agencies.

The Ministère du Tourisme has entrusted the management of Explore Québec to the Receptive Tour Operators and Travel Agencies Association of Québec (ARF-Québec), its privileged partner for the development and marketing of the tourism package offer in Québec.

Goals

  • Increase demand in response to a favourable offer.
  • Promote lower air fares to targeted regions.
  • Contribute to extending the tourist season for regions with high seasonality.

Deadline for the program

The program will finish on March 31, 2023 or when the budget is exhausted, whichever comes first.

Eligibility conditions

Eligible agencies

  • Travel agencies;
  • Tour operators;
  • Hosting agencies holding a license from the Office de la protection du consommateur;

Agencies holding a restricted licence from the Office de la protection du consommateur are not eligible.

Eligible agencies are allowed to partner together and submit a joint application.

Agencies will be prioritized that have experience in the region concerned by the package or that have already participated in a familiarization tour in this region.

Eligibility in itself does not grant any guarantee of funding to the agency or any obligation on the part of ARF-Québec or the Ministère du Tourisme.

Non-eligible agencies

  • Municipal entities;
  • Crown corporations;
  • Departments and organizations of the Gouvernement du Québec;
  • Departments and organizations of the Government of Canada.

Eligible projects

Packages intended to market one of the following tourism regions:

  • Gaspésie;
  • Bas-Saint-Laurent;
  • Îles-de-la-Madeleine;
  • Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean;
  • Abitibi-Témiscamingue;
  • Côte-Nord (Duplessis and Manicouagan);
  • Eeyou Istchee James Bay;
  • Nunavik.

The packages must:

  • include air transportation to the tourism region covered by the package; 
  • include at least two nights’ stay in the tourism region covered by the package;
  • include at least two flagship attractions in the region covered by the package, which correspond to the theme experiences of the Alliance de l’industrie touristique du Québec:
    • Life of the St. Lawrence River,
    • Local flavours,
    • Vibrant cities and festivals,
    • Living culture and history,
    • Outdoor adventures,
    • Winter fun,
    • Discovery roads,
    • Hunting and fishing; 
  • allow Québec to be explored year round by lengthening the peak season for regions with high seasonality (Gaspésie, Bas-Saint-Laurent, Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean); The stay dates for regions with high seasonality must exclude July and August. However, some packages meeting very specific needs could be exceptions and be accepted by the selection committee for this period of high seasonality. There is no restriction on stay dates for other regions. A package including a region with high seasonality and another region would have no restriction of stay dates.
  • be intended for independent travellers and groups as appropriate according to the realities of the region and the maturity of the travellers;
  • be marketed by the agency;
  • include commercial flights rather than chartered flights, whenever possible. Proof of purchase of air service is required.

Marketing of showcase products will prioritize packages that:

  • showcase the flagship products and unique experiences of the targeted regions that stand out from other regions;
  • be customizable, giving customers the option to add additional nights or activities; 
  • promote the development of the tourism offer;
  • offer longer says;
  • constitute a new package;
  • reach the target markets for promotion outside Québec of the Alliance de l'industrie touristique du Québec, in addition to other markets with high potential depending on targeted niches or seasons.

Showcase products represent packages that will have greater visibility in the campaigns and marketing of the Alliance de l’industrie touristique du Québec and the regional tourism associations.

Application processing

Filing an application

  • Agencies wishing to obtain financial assistance must submit a formal application by completing the required forms and providing the required supporting documents.
  • ARF-Québec will confirm the eligibility of the agency.
  • The agency will receive an acknowledgment of receipt within ten business days of the filing of the application.
  • ARF-Québec will receive the applications for financial assistance four times a year.
    For 2020 :
    • 1st call for proposals: from January 20 to February 28,  2020;
    • 2nd call for proposals: May  2020; 
    • 3rd call for proposals: July  2020; 
    • 4th call for proposals: September  2020;
  • The agency may submit a package for the current year or the next year.

Analysis of an application

The projects will be assessed according to the analysis grid available on the ARF-Québec website. 

A representative of the regional tourism association concerned and a selection committee will assess the projects based on the established criteria. 

The selection committee is composed of a representative of the Ministère du Tourisme, the Alliance de l’industrie touristique du Québec and a representative of the ARF-Québec consultant. 

Only complete applications will be assessed.

Approving an application

The financial assistance granted will be the subject of an agreement between ARF-Québec and the agency. It will specify the description of the project, the aid granted, the payment terms for this assistance, and the supporting documents that must be provided.

Financial assistance

The financial assistance that is being offered is in the form of a grant. 

Considering the operating procedures of the program, the notion of cumulating government assistance does not apply.

The financial assistance granted to the agency will be used in its entirety to sell the proposed package at a reduced rate.

In the first year, the financial assistance granted for each package sold with domestic flights in Québec will be approximately 50% of the average air fare This hyperlink will open in a new window. for each region:

  • Gaspésie: $250;
  • Bas-Saint-Laurent: $250;
  • Îles-de-la-Madeleine: $ 250;
  • Abitibi-Témiscamingue: $250;
  • Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean: $250;
  • Côte-Nord:  
    • Duplessis:  $750  (Sept-Îles: $250);
    • Manicouagan: $250;
  • Eeyou Istchee James Bay: $ 550;
  • Nunavik: $1200 (Kuujjuaq: $600 if a discount is already offered by Canadian North under a package)

In the first year, the financial assistance granted for each package sold with flights from outside Québec will be approximately 25% of the average air fare for each region:

  • Gaspésie: $125;
  • Bas-Saint-Laurent: $ 125
  • Îles-de-la-Madeleine: $125;
  • Abitibi-Témiscamingue: $125;
  • Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean: $125;
  • Côte-Nord:
    • Duplessis: $375  (Sept-Îles: $125);.
    • Manicouagan: $125;
  • Eeyou Istchee James Bay: $ 275;
  • Nunavik: $ 600.

If necessary, the amount established for each region may be adjusted by the Management Committee.

A package including a one-way trip to a region and a return trip from a different region will be awarded half of the financial assistance provided for each region concerned. The amount granted will then correspond to the sum of these two amounts.  

The financial assistance per customer must not exceed the total price of the air fare.  

The agency must indicate its projected sales potential. Based on the sales predictions submitted and the available budget, a selection committee will determine the financial assistance that will be allocated to the agency.

The selected package will receive financial assistance for at least one year. There is a possibility of renewal if the results reach a certain sales threshold that is determined by the program’s management committee. A mechanism to reallocate allocated financial assistance will be used if the agency does not meet the determined thresholds.

Upon the exhaustion of the financial assistance allocated to the agency, the packages can then be sold at normal rates.

Financial assistance cannot be increased to compensate for any cost overruns.

The Ministère du Tourisme will subsidize no more than the total number of packages established in the financial assistance agreement.  If the agency wishes to increase its grant, it must contact ARF-Québec to validate the availability of the financial assistance.

Payments terms

Financial assistance will be paid monthly based on an up-to-date sales statement and proof of customer air travel.

General management terms

The total amount of financial assistance to be granted under this program is $9.5 million, divided as follows: 

  • $1 million for 2019-2020;
  • $2 million for 2020-2021;
  • $3 million for 2021-2022;
  • $3.5 million for 2022-2023.

To ensure the efficient operation and success of the program, ARF-Québec may consult with the Ministère du Tourisme to adjust certain parameters of this program annually. Ministerial approval may be required for any financial changes.

After reviewing the applications, the selection committee will determine the number of packages selected in each eligible region, which could allow for the packaging of several products or seasons by region.

ARF-Québec may refuse to grant financial assistance or suspend it if the agency no longer meets the criteria that made the project eligible or if it fails to fulfill any contractual obligations.

Until the expiry of the program, packages can be modified to adapt to the market or the tourist offerings in the region. Where appropriate, the agency may have to demonstrate the need for these adjustments to the selection committee.

The agency must manage the assembly, promotion, sale and after-sales service of the packages being offered. The agencies are compensated by selling packages.

The agency must ask consumers if they agree to be surveyed by the Ministère du Tourisme and, if necessary, provide ARF-Québec with their contact information.

The agency must affix the Explore Québec logo to the documents intended for intra-Québec promotion.

Targeted results

The assessment of achieved objectives will include the following indicators:

  1. Increased demand in response to a favourable offer: 
    • Growth in the number of accommodation units occupied in each region;
    • Growth in the number of tourists arriving from outside the region;
    • Increase in the ratio of the number of tourists benefiting from the program compared to the average number of tourists for the reference period (2013-2018).
  2. Lower air fares to targeted regions: 
    • Decrease in the average monthly air fare per region compared to the average monthly fare in 2018.
  3. Extension of the tourist season for regions with high seasonality: 
    • Increase in the number of units occupied monthly by region from September to May.

Filing an application

ARF-Québec will receive package proposals up to February 28, 2020 at 5 p.m.

To submit an application, you must complete the required forms This hyperlink will open in a new window. by providing the required supporting documents and sending them to explorequebec@arfquebec.com.

You can also mail them to the following address:

Agences réceptives et forfaitistes du Québec
(ARF-Québec - Receptive Tour Operators and Travel Agencies Association of Quebec)
P.O. Box 20010, Belvédère Station
Québec, Québec G1S 4Z2