Police aid sought after rowdy tourists descend on Gaspe region without reservations

Quebec Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault urged vacationers in the popular tourist region of Gaspe on Monday to show some respect.

The minister made the comments after a member of the legislature who represents the region called on the province for money and police to deal with an influx of rowdy tourists.

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Meganne Perry Melancon of the Parti Quebecois issued a news released Monday lamenting how Gaspe doesn't have enough resources to ensure out-of-towners respect their surroundings.

Quebecers staying closer to home this summer because of COVID-19 are being accused of arriving in the region without reservations and camping anywhere they find space, harming the environment and upsetting locals.

Perry Melancon said some tourists have been camping illegally on beaches and others have threatened fragile ecosystems by setting up tents in protected wetlands. There has also been garbage found in area waterways. She called on Guilbault to visit the region and see for herself.

Guilbault told a Montreal news conference Monday the situation was improving. She said the province would rely on increased police visibility to deter a "minority" of troublesome tourists.

"It was shocking," Guilbault said of "heartbreaking" images of trash in rivers, lakes, and beaches. "I'm asking everyone to be respectful and show civic virtue so that all people ... can enjoy themselves in all regions of Quebec." Guilbault said Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx was visiting the region next week.

Gaspe has experienced record tourism this year and local authorities have said they are worried about the risk of COVID-19 transmission inside crowded camping areas.

With heavy local tourism in different parts of the province, Guilbault said the government was ready to help as needed.

"It is a burden for municipalities like Gaspe who didn't know how to cope with that situation, so please be respectful," Guilbault said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 27, 2020.

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