Laura Serri, owner of Caffè Italia in Montreal’s Little Italy, says the Grand Prix always draws crowds.
“There are people from all over the city,” Serry said. “They come and hang out and have fun. Kiosks are everywhere. It’s a nice happy place.”
The Grand Prix was delayed when pandemic measures were strict, but it returns this weekend after a two-year hiatus, and many business owners are looking forward to it as the event is known for boosting local economies.
“It’s a fun, fun weekend,” Serry said.
Jean-Drapeau Park SocietyTourisme Montréal and Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix published a study earlier this year that put the event’s economic impact on gross domestic product (GDP) at $63.2 million.
The study also showed $16 million in provincial and federal tax revenue, and that 66% of visitors came from outside Montreal and 52% from outside Quebec.
Jean-Sebastian Boudreau, Representative Greater Montreal Hotel Associationsaid the event is certainly a boost for hotels in the region as visitors book rooms across the city.
“As soon as they announced that the Grand Prix was coming, the hotels were booked,” he said.
After struggling to rent even a few rooms during the pandemic, Boudreau said they are looking to this weekend as a way to kick-start the travel industry this summer.
The fact that hotel occupancy rates have risen by more than 97 percent is also good news for businesses, said Glenn Castanheira, executive director of an association of merchants in downtown Montreal.
“The Grand Prix is Canada’s biggest sporting event and a huge downtown business event in a ‘normal’ year. This year is anything but ordinary,” he said by email.
“We can expect a record influx of visitors and much-needed foot traffic for our downtown businesses that have been hit so hard by the pandemic.”
After Montreal has been hit so hard by the pandemic, the Grand Prix is helping the city center “recover quickly and strongly”, he said.
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The Gilles Villeneuve circuit, located in Montreal’s Parc Jean-Drapeau, will be completed 70 times by riders who cover just over 305 kilometers on Sunday afternoon after qualifying runs on Saturday.
The cars accelerated to a top speed of 350 km/h in a race that was first held in Montreal in 1978.
Katherine Cadotte, spokeswoman for Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante, said the event remains what “makes the city shine the most worldwide and excites the city, its businesses and its cultural institutions.”
However, the Plante administration continues to pursue “the most ambitious goals in terms of ecological transition”, and, she explained, the questions raised in connection with the impact of the event on the environment are relevant and necessary.
“Organizers should explain how they intend to contribute to the green transition effort,” Cadott said.
The Formula One Canadian Grand Prix did not respond to a request for comment.