If you walk down to Peel St., you’ll see changes that may seem like a blast from the past.
The street is closed, extra tables are set up – it’s the first time since 2019 that the Grand Prix has come to town, and those in the local tourism industry couldn’t be happier.
“There are two years of preparation,” said Ziggy Eichenbaum of Ziggy’s Pub.
“The Grand Prix, for us, is what kicks off the summer months season and really opens the floodgates for tourism in Montreal,” said Glenn Castanheira of the Downtown Business Development Group.
And not only are traders happy to be back, but they expect tourists to be too. The forecast is that this weekend will see very high numbers, even more than usual.
“We are expecting a foot traffic record, many visitors from all over the world have not seen the North American Grand Prix for over two years. But also many people who have not traveled yet”, Castanheira said.
The signs point in that direction so far. Most hotels are full, said Jean-Sebastien Boudreault of the Greater Montreal Hotel Association.
He was so curious to see how things were going that he himself called a few hotels on Tuesday morning to see if they had any rooms left.
“Even if you’re willing to pay…everyone has 100% occupancy,” he said.
For them, a single weekend can be a chance to start making up for two years of lost income.
“Some months we had about five percent occupancy for the month,” Boudreault said.
Downtown bars agree with that sentiment – this weekend is their chance to get back to business. Some Grand Prix regulars have already shown up, Eichenbaum said, such as auto mechanics. Now they are waiting for the biggest wave.
“It gets very, very busy,” Eichenbaum said.
“We have closed the street again. We have a scene coming Thursday, Friday, Saturday. You have about 10,000 to 15,000 people on the street every day.”