Written by Kristel Aubé-Cloutier
Translation by Anne Laflèche
There are several magnificent snowmobiling locations in Quebec, but Abitibi-Témiscamingue is in a class by itself. Our wide, meandering trails are safe and so extensive, chances are you won’t see another person all day, even though there are hundreds of snowmobilers out there. Our region is a snowmobiler’s paradise! Snowmobiling is highly important in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, both for residents and visitors. Not only is it rooted in our culture, it is the main tourist attraction during the winter months, making a substantial contribution to the regional economy. Below are ten reasons why snowmobilers should visit Val-d’Or and the surrounding area, and why we should all exclaim: God Bless Snowmobiling!
With its wide open spaces and long winter season, Quebec is snowmobiling heaven. Tourists from around the world are visiting Quebec to snowmobile in increasing numbers. In the 2012-2013 winter season 3,329 Americans, 5,308 Canadians from outside Quebec and 88,535 Quebeckers bought snowmobile permits (TAT, 2014), with Abitibi-Témiscamingue ranking third for the number of permit sales after Outaouais and Lanaudière. Top snowmobiling magazine Supertrax International has more than once named Abitibi-Témiscamingue one of the best snowmobile destinations, and awarded it first place in 2010 and 2011. The region is also receiving high praise from other quarters, and growing numbers of journalists, experts, bloggers and other visitors to the region are unanimous: snowmobiling in Abitibi-Témiscamingue is an unforgettable experience!
An Excellent Reason to Enjoy the Outdoors!
There is only one thing to do when there are wide, meandering trails and breathtaking natural panoramas on your doorstep: spend the day outdoors snowmobiling! The benefits of the outdoors are many: more energy, less stress, sound sleep and a hearty appetite, in addition to wonderful memories to take home.
Top Quality Trails
Abitibi-Témiscamingue, known for its wide, meandering snowmobile trails and breathtaking scenery, is one of the most popular snowmobile destinations in the world. With 3,700 km of trails, snowmobiling is a top tourist attraction and the number-one tourism product during the winter. Snowmobilers can cover long distances without crossing roads and love both the variety of trails (straight and curved) and the sense that they have the trails all to themselves. It is rare to encounter other snowmobilers, even when there are several enjoying the trails at the same time.
A Longer Season
Winter 2016 was unusual for its late start. Generally, snowmobile season opens in Abitibi-Témiscamingue approximately two weeks earlier than in many other Quebec regions, and ends two weeks later, offering snowmobilers an important extra month of fun!
Snowmobiling is part of who we are
Because snowmobiling is so popular among residents of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, it is part of the culture. Visiting snowmobilers won’t feel that they are a disruption and will encounter respectful and careful drivers when crossing urban areas. Moreover, they can easily get tips on the best locales, where safety precautions are paramount, and reliable advice.
It goes without saying that the warmth and friendliness of the residents of Abitibi-Témiscamingue also have a major impact on the quality of the snowmobile tourism experience. With such a friendly reception from residents, visitors find it very easy to fall under the region’s spell and rate their experience as unforgettable. A number of returning visitors to our visitor information centre tell us that it only took one visit to convince them to come back again and again.
In Val-d’Or, an urban snowmobile route is prepared each year through a large part of the downtown area, providing access to numerous services, such as gas stations, banks, snowmobile specialty shops, hotels and restaurants. There are information panels located along the route to direct snowmobilers who are unfamiliar with the city.
An Active Tourism Industry
Although tourists place a great deal of importance on trail quality, access to services and a destination’s reputation, the human side is equally important. The region’s tourism industry understands that fact, and makes sure that snowmobilers have access to products and services that will give them a top-notch experience. For example, hotels offer competitive packages that are designed for snowmobilers, with a number of value-added services and products, such as trailer and snowmobile parking with 24/7 monitoring, or heated garages. There is also signage along the trails for a number of restaurants and hotels.
A Longer Tourist Season
Because snowmobiling is such a tourist attraction in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, the tourist season extends through the winter, reducing the drop in revenues between summer and winter. For example, many accommodation providers in Val-d’Or offer snowmobile packages and restaurants regularly welcome groups of snowmobilers stopping in for a meal.
A Substantial Economic Impact
Snowmobiling is an essential component of tourism in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, with economic spinoffs of over $2.5 billion in Quebec as a whole, including $60 million in Abitibi-Témiscamingue and close to $20 million in MRC de la Vallée-de-l’Or (MRCVO). It is now recognized as a major economic partner in regional development. The urban route in Val-d’Or also bolsters other services that while not a direct part of the industry, such as gas stations, banks and snowmobile specialty shops, benefit from snowmobile tourism in Val-d’Or. Tourism has a positive impact on the city’s economy as a whole.