An entrepreneur specializing in gift packages accuses the Ministry of Tourism of competing with him in an “unfair” manner by offering, with public funds, up to 40% of discounts on overnight stays and various tourist activities.
“It's like an indirect subsidy. It is money that is taken from our taxes, from our taxes, ”denounces Yanik Guillemette, president and founder of Outgo.com , a Quebec website that sells 15,000 packages per year, with the support of 400 SMEs in across the province.
The young entrepreneur did not hesitate to express his discontent last week when the Minister of Tourism, Caroline Proulx, welcomed the success met this summer with Passeport Attraits, a program in which 8.7 million Additional $ have just been injected.
“The government is now competing with platforms like Prestige Boxes, Outgo: Packages & Gift Ideas, La Forfaiterie, etc., by offering discounts paid for by our taxes. We will have really seen everything, ”he railed on Twitter. Like a first approach last June, his message to the Minister went unanswered.
Slap in the face
Since deconfinement, the Ministry of Tourism has committed more than $ 20 million in public funds to Explore Québec sur la route and Passeport Attraits, to offer various discount packages to Quebecers in times of pandemic.
In recent days, a new $ 1.5 million promotional campaign by Cossette has also been launched to boost discounts offered during the fall and winter tourist seasons.
“It's a scandal,” responded Mr. Guillemette. “It's the worst slap you can't put in my face,” added the young entrepreneur, who regrets never having been consulted or approached by the government.
Yet this is what the provinces of New Brunswick, Ontario and Manitoba have done by taking an interest in the Outgo.com platform.
But its founding president chose to remain “faithful to Quebec”. According to him, Quebec could have done well more quickly by using sites like his.
The government and its representative have however opted for the creation of “mediocre and obsolete portals, which are not even transactional”, deplores Mr. Guillemette, who, despite a “bitter taste”, leaves the door open to more collaboration with the 'State.
” Complementary “
Relaunched by our Parliamentary Bureau, Minister Proulx's office defended itself by arguing that the objective of the measures deployed last June was “to quickly inject liquidity” directly into the coffers of companies, without an intermediary.
“Our incentive measures are deployed in a complementary way to the offer of these private platforms”, underlined the press secretary of the Minister of Tourism, Sandra O'Connor.
Covid-19 tourism recovery plan
Explore Quebec on the road
- Up to 25% off a package including at least two nights and access to visit two tourist attractions.
- Budget: $ 10M
- Spent to date: $ 9.5M
- 3706 packages sold to date
- 20% discount on the purchase of a passport for two tourist attractions or activities, 30% for three and 40% for four.
- Budget: $ 5M + $ 8.7M announced on September 12
- More than 120,000 passports already sold
Who is Yanik Guillemette?
- President and founder, Outgo.com : Quebec website specializing in the sale of gift packages, experiences and getaways
- Company founded in 2016: 14 employees
- Two offices (Quebec and Montreal): nearly 1,000 packages offered online 15,000 sales per year