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Peter Black
Local Journalism Initiative reporter

A well-known figure in Quebec City’s tourism industry is returning to town after a brief stint in Montreal.

Robert Mercure, who served as director general of the landmark Château Frontenac hotel from 2007 to 2018, will be the new head of the city’s tourism office as of April 23.

At a March 12 press conference at city hall to announce the appointment, Mayor Régis Labeaume said that even though he didn’t participate in the selection process, Mercure would have been his choice for the position. “I am proud that he is coming back to Quebec City full time. He has always worked with the public. He knows the realities of tourism.”

The mayor added, “The tourism sector faces significant challenges as a result of the pandemic. I am convinced that Mr. Mercure will be able to ensure the tourism revival of the region and I offer him all my support to achieve this.”

Mercure, a native of Granby who has had a long career in the hotel industry in places as diverse as Monaco, Boston, Washington, Toronto and Savannah, said he is coming home to his “adoptive city.” He said, “My family is here, my children, my grandchildren. It’s wonderful to come back.”

Mercure became the boss of the Château at a busy and challenging time. He oversaw operations during the city’s 400th anniversary celebration in 2008, supervised a major overhaul and updating of the famous hotel at a time when the global tourism industry was in a slump provoked by the 2009 recession, and oversaw the hotel’s 125th anniversary celebrations in 2018.

Now Mercure’s challenge is to help rebuild the city’s pandemic-battered tourism industry. He said, “My role is to create something never seen before. We are going to go much further, and my goal is to go beyond the best years of success we had before the pandemic, and sooner rather than later.

“We will do everything to support restaurateurs, hoteliers and all people in the tourist industry, to get them back on their feet and do everything to support them to have a great, great success.”

Mercure said, “The leisure market will be the one that picks up sooner. I even think that in the fall we can start to look to the American market. In the convention market, it's going to be very good in the long run.

“Currently, there is pent-up demand. There are so many postponed events that it’s going to be full when we reopen. We're going to break records. We have become experts in Zoom and Teams, but the technology is complementary. Human beings need to meet physically.”

David Mendel, a tourism entrepreneur and Mercure’s friend, said “it’s very good news” he is returning to Quebec City to head the tourism office. “The pandemic has been devastating for the tourism industry, and he is just the person to steer us through the challenging months ahead, as we begin to cautiously open up again,” said Mendel. “Robert and I share a keen interest in Quebec’s history and enjoy exchanging ideas during occasional walks together in the Old City. It will be great to have him back with us again full time.”

PHOTO of Mercure BELOW

Screenshot from the Ville de Québec YouTube site

Robert Mercure is delighted to be back in Quebec City as the director of the Office du tourisme de Québec.

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