Fri. Apr 12th, 2024

Whitecoat observation season canceled again

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A fairly thick pack ice must be present to safely observe the whitecoats, which is not the case again this year. (Archive photo)

  • Isabelle Larose (View profile)Isabelle Larose

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Due to a lack of ice cream, Château Madelinot is canceling its flagship winter tourism activity in the Magdalen Islands for the 4th consecutive year. Faced with uncertainty, the hotel changes its marketing strategy, without however putting a definitive end to the observation of whitecoats.

The same scenario has been repeated since 2021. The absence of ice floes in the gulf prevents Château Madelinot from being able to transport tourists there to observe young seals.

While the hotel had never canceled the activity before 2010, it has been forced to do so eight times in the past 15 years.

Considering the precariousness of the activity in the face of climate change, Château Madelinot modified its marketing strategy in 2023 by not investing any money in its promotion.

Unlike in past years, we did not hold a marketing fair, we did not meet our partner travel agencies, we did not do a campaign on the web, explains the director of sales, marketing and communications from Hôtels Accents, Ariane Bérubé.

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Despite this, the company still responded to nearly 175 customers who were ready to go to the Magdalen Islands, at the last minute, in the event of an ice floe.

It must be said that we have been operating this activity for more than 40 years, so we have only used our customer base which is already very strong, underlines Ms. Bérubé.< /p>Open in full screen mode

The Director of Sales, Marketing and Communications of the Hotels Accents, Ariane Bérubé.

For the next few years, Château Madelinot's strategy will be to remain ready to organize the observation of whitecoats if the ice forms, with this list of clients who are willing to postpone their participation from one year to the next. People have a sense of urgency, the feeling that next time may be the last time, believes Ariane Bérubé.

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In the 1990s, whitecoat watching attracted up to 400 tourists in the archipelago over a period of four weeks. (File photo)

As long as our partners are ready to start everything at the last minute in the event that there is ice, we, for our part at Château Madelinot, are able to put the operation in place very quickly, adds- she reminds us that Château Madelinot is now open all year round.

Every year we cancel, people are disappointed, but they ask us to call them back the following year. This is where we have our signal, this is what encourages us and motivates us to keep it active from one year to the next.

A quote from Ariane Bérubé, director of sales and marketing and communications of Accents Hotels

Despite the uncertainty linked to ever milder winters, it is clear that the Château Madelinot team is not not ready to definitively turn the page on whitecoat observation.

We have a hard time, because it was such a strong product for us at Château Madelinot, but also for the destination of the Magdalen Islands, it's part of of DNA, launches Ariane Bérubé. If there is ice and we don’t do the activity, are we able to live with that? The answer is no.

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The waters of the gulf of the St. Lawrence are currently free of ice, while historically an ice floe formed there.

Furthermore, the Château Madelinot team is participating in a study conducted by UQAM researchers on the adaptation of tourism businesses to climate change.

Its inability to continue to offer the annual whitecoat observation activity, which has nevertheless made it famous, is one of the cases under study.

We are one of the companies targeted to share the history, but also the present, of the impact of climate change on a tourism business.

A quote from Ariane Bérubé, director of sales, marketing and communications for Hôtels Accents

We want to benefit from the expertise, adds Ms. Bérubé. Our first cancellations were in 2010, it was really unusual for a tourist company to cancel due to lack of ice cream and cold, whereas now it has practically become common.

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The Château Madelinot hotel must adapt its offer of tourist services to climate change.

Other Madelinian companies are also participating in the research project.

It creates a collaboration between us too, reports Ariane Bérubé. It is truly unity that will provide strength in adapting to climate change, at all levels, but also for future tourism development.

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