Call for proposals

For an indefinite period, applications are being received on an ongoing basis. 

Selected packages will be offered to consumers at a reduced rate through an Explore Québec grant.

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 packaging. Its goal is to increase tourism revenue in the targeted regions and their bordering regions.

The Explore Québec program consists in offering tourists a 35% reduction in the cost of a package that includes air transportation to a destination in Québec’s remote regions, purchased under packages created by selected Québec travel agencies, tour operators and hosting agencies.

The Ministère 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 airfares to targeted regions.

  • Contribute to extending the tourist season for regions with high seasonality.

Deadline for the program

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

Eligibility conditions

Eligible parties

  • Travel agencies

  • Tour operators

  • Hosting agencies holding a regular licence 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 permitted to partner together and submit a joint application.

Priority will be given to agencies 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 parties

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

Eligible projects

Packages must:

  • be 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;
  • include air transportation to the tourism region covered by the package (commercial flights rather than chartered flights, whenever possible). Proof of purchase of air service is required; 
  • 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 for year-round exploration of Québec by lengthening the peak season for regions with high seasonality. For stay dates in July and August, therefore, the sale of Explore Québec packages:
    • is not permitted for the Gaspésie, Bas-Saint-Laurent and Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean regions,
    • is permitted for the Îles-de-la-Madeleine region up to March 31, 2022,
    • is permitted without restriction for other regions.

      A package including a region with high seasonality and another region would have no restriction of stay dates. During restricted periods, agencies can still sell packages at the regular rate without mentioning Explore Québec;
  • be marketed by the agency.

Conditions applicable to service providers

Service providers must:

  • comply with the public health instructions and directives issued by the Direction générale de la santé publique in the context of the COVID‑19 pandemic;
  • hold the “Quality Safety Certified” seal from Aventure Écotourisme Québec or be in the process of obtaining it if the provider offers nature or adventure activities;
  • be operating and offer tourism services or services sold in the package.

Tourist accommodations offered in the packages must hold a classification certificate and a valid establishment number, which must also be displayed in any advertising and on any Internet sites used for promotional purposes. An establishment that serves as a principal residence is not eligible.

Marketing of showcase products (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) will prioritize packages that:

  • showcase the flagship products of the targeted regions and the unique experiences that stand out from other regions;
  • are customizable, giving customers the option to add additional nights or activities; 
  • promote the development of the tourism offer;
  • offer longer stays;
  • 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.

Application processing

Filing an application

  • For an indefinite period, applications are being received on an ongoing basis.

  • 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.

Analysis of an application

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

The selection committee will assess the applications based on the established criteria. 

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 assistance granted, the payment terms for this assistance, and the supporting documents that must be provided.

Financial assistance

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

Considering the operating procedures of the program, the notion of government assistance stacking 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.

The financial assistance granted for each package sold with domestic flights in Québec or with flights stopping over from outside Québec will be as follows:

  • A 35% reduction on the full amount of an Explore Québec package up to a maximum reduction of $1,200;
  • A 35% reduction only on the land portion of the package in the case of packages that include a $500 subsidized air transportation ticket, up to a maximum reduction of $1,200;
  • A 35% reduction only on the land portion of the package in the case of packages that include air transportation with connected flights outside Québec.

The financial assistance per customer must not exceed the maximum reduction of $1,200.  

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 of subsidized packages.

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 with the average number of tourists for the reference period (2013–2018).

2. Lower airfares to targeted regions: 

  • Decrease in the average monthly airfare per region compared with 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

To submit an application, please contact :.

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