Frédéric Tomesco Published Mar 10, 2023  •   3 minute read

“This should be a good year,” the local hotel association says.

Occupancy at Montreal hotels surged nearly 89 percent in 2022, the best showing among Canada’s six biggest cities, according to a new report published by the Avison Young real-estate services firm. Revenue per available room, a key industry metric, soared 155 percent in Montreal to $127.45.

Canadian hotel market statistics

“All the major Canadian markets showed strong recovery year-over-year, but Montreal really stood out,” Curtis Gallagher, who heads Avison Young’s hospitality business for Canada, said Friday in an interview. “There was a return of leisure (travellers) due to pent-up demand, and a return of small groups, regional and local businesses.”

Although Montreal hoteliers began the year dealing with closed borders and strict health measures such as compulsory mask-wearing, 2022 will be remembered for the surge in tourism that followed the gradual lifting of restrictions starting in mid-March — and the return of marquee events such as Formula One’s Canadian Grand Prix. Montreal also hosted several prominent conventions, finishing the year with December’s COP15 biodiversity conference and its thousands of delegates.

Greater Montreal Hotel Association numbers show similar trends. They put the average occupancy rate for 2022 at about 61 percent, down from 73 percent in 2019.Compared with 2019, “there’s an occupancy gap that’s fairly significant, but rates made up the difference,” Gallagher said. “A lot of the revenue increase was based on rate growth because the industry struggled and may continue to struggle a little bit due to the availability and the cost of labour.”

Having bottomed out at 33 percent in the first quarter, occupancy in Montreal took off as the economy reopened, hotel association data show. By the fourth quarter, the metric hit 69 percent, just shy of the 70 percent average recorded in the same period in 2019. COP15 boosted occupancy for December to almost 67 percent, exceeding 2019 levels.

Absent a repeat of the health crisis, Montreal’s hotel operators can look forward to an even better year in 2023.

Montreal’s Palais des congrès said in January it already had about 200 events booked until Dec. 31. Major gatherings include next week’s International Summit on Electric and Smart Transportation, an artificial intelligence event called World Summit AI Americas 2023 and the World Congress of Neurology.

About 150 other business and sporting events have been confirmed for 2023, which Tourism Montreal says will generate more than 250,000 overnight stays and economic spinoffs of about $240 million. About 80,000 delegates combined are expected to visit the city in April and October, which will be 2023’s busiest months.“This should be a good year,” hotel association head Jean-Sébastien Boudreault said Friday. “We only operated for nine months in 2022, so there is a fair bit of catching up ahead, especially given the debt that many hotel operators had to take on. We know it’s going to take a few years for business travel to come back to pre-pandemic levels, but Montreal remains an attractive destination.”

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Source: Montreal Gazette