Call for proposals

Interested agencies should submit a competitively priced proposal package. The selected packages will be offered to consumers at a reduced rate through an Explore Québec grant that is being provided to stimulate sales. The precise dates for the submission of proposals will be communicated later.

Context

Access to affordable air transportation is a major issue in Quebec and one of the biggest challenges for the tourism industry. Because of this, the Ministry of Tourism is establishing a program that will facilitate tourist access to Québec's remote tourist regions by promoting competitively priced packages. It thereby hopes to increase the expenditures of tourists in the targeted regions and surrounding regions.

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

Goals

  • Increased demand in response to a favorable offer.
  • Lower air fares to targeted regions.
  • Extension of 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.

Agencies must:

  • hold a license from the Office of Consumer Protection;
  • have at least two years of experience in the region where they wish to submit a package offer;
  • have at least two years of international experience in target markets and/or have worked with the regional tourism association of the region for at least two years.

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

Non-eligible agencies

  • Municipal entities;
  • Crown corporations;
  • Departments and organizations of the Gouvernement du Québec;
  • Departments and organizations of the Canadian government.

Eligible projects

  • Packages should market one of the following tourist regions and must include air transportation to the destination, a minimum of two nights stay, and two flagship attractions that correspond to the emphasized thematic experiences to promote Québec with the Alliance de l'industrie touristique du Québec:
    • Gaspésie;
    • Îles-de-la-Madeleine;
    • Bas-Saint-Laurent;
    • Abitibi-Témiscamingue;
    • Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean;
    • Côte-Nord (Duplessis and Manicouagan);
    • Eeyou Istchee Baie-James;
    • Nunavik.

Prioritized packages will:

  • showcase the flagship products and unique experiences of the targeted regions that stand out from other regions;
  • allow Québec to be explored throughout the year by lengthening the peak season for regions with high seasonality;
  • be customizable, giving customers the option to add additional nights or activities; 
  • be intended for free independent travelers and groups according to regional realities and their tourism maturity;
  • include commercial flights rather than chartered flights whenever possible in order to create long-term volume. Proof of purchase of air service is required;
  • promote the development of the tourism offer;
  • reach the target markets of the Alliance de l'industrie touristique du Québec and the intra-Québec region, in addition to other markets with higher potential depending on targeted niches or seasons.

Application processing

Filing out an application

  • Agencies wishing to obtain financial assistance must submit a formal application by completing the required form.
  • 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 applications for financial assistance once or twice a year when deemed appropriate by the Management Committee.

Processing an application

A financial aid selection committee will be established and will include:

  • a representative from the Ministry;
  • one or more representatives from other organizations.

During each call for proposals period, ARF-Québec will analyze the applications and submit them to the selection committee, which will review them. The selection committee will select the packages and determine the financial assistance that will be allocated to the agency based on a list of predetermined criteria. 

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. Being eligible does not guarantee receiving funding under the program.

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 for each region.

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

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

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.

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 $9,500,000.

To ensure the efficient operation and success of the program, ARF-Québec may consult with the Ministry 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 Ministry and, if necessary, provide ARF-Québec with their contact information.

Targeted results

The assessment of achieved objectives will include the following indicators:

  1. Increased demand in response to a favorable 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.