Economy"What will make the difference in August?" The...

“What will make the difference in August?” The weather more than the sanitary pass ”, analyzes the director of Protourisme

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Neither the establishment of the health pass nor the rapid spread of the Delta variant seem to have gripped the tourism sector in July, despite concerns from professionals in the sector a few weeks ago.

In an interview with JDD this week, the Secretary of State for Tourism, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, even announced that he hoped to receive 50 million foreign visitors this summer. But with tourists mainly from Europe and bad weather, will the objectives be achieved? For 20 Minutes, Didier Arino, director of the consulting firm Protourisme, analyzes the situation.

Despite the bad weather in recent weeks and the Delta variant, tourism seems to have done quite well in July. Does that surprise you?

It’s miraculous, but the situation remains mixed. On 80% of the territory, things are going well, but the metropolises are suffering a real hecatomb in terms of tourist flows and spending. This is the case with Paris, among others. It lacks the distant clientele and this is a real problem, because it spends on average three times more than European tourists. The luxury sector is also significantly impacted.

All those who depend on Franco-French tourism – the seaside resort and the mountains – are doing quite well, even if it could have been exceptional without the bad weather. Last minute bookings were missed, especially on the North Atlantic coast and part of the countryside. So overall, it’s on the rise.

In which areas was it more difficult in July due to the weather?

Normandy, which has several problems. There is a strong dependence on British customers, which is very little there. They also miss the American customers, who came to the beaches of Normandy, and the French local customers, especially Parisians, who have gone to more distant destinations, to the South.

In terms of occupancy rate, how was July?

It’s a bit early to find out. But if we want to make a summary, on the coast, there was over 80% occupancy rate, in rural areas, around 60%, and a little over 30% in the mountains. . For the campsites, it went well, the same for the hotels in seaside resorts, even if they also depend on last minute reservations. And for accommodation platforms, it’s a record year with resort destinations outside of cities. On the other hand, for the countryside and the mountains, it is a little worse, even if we are increasing compared to last year. Some mountain areas, valleys for example, have been impacted by bad weather.

Compared to summer 2020, more French people have gone abroad. Likewise, we have had feedback from European customers, including Belgians, Dutch and Swiss. They came in greater numbers, especially to the Mediterranean.

Can we reasonably expect the arrival of 50 million foreign tourists this summer, as announced by Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne this week?

It will be more than difficult. We must not forget that in 2020, January and February were good, and in June 2020, we already had 5 million fewer tourists compared to the previous year. I will bet more on 40 to 45 million tourists this summer.

How does the absence of these foreign tourists weigh?

There is a revenue problem. A long-haul customer, from the Middle East, Asia or Russia, spends three times more than a local European customer. We can have flows, but that won’t solve the problem. We could see our country cross to Spain and be satisfied with it, that’s what we have been doing for years. In flow, of course, we are at the center of Europe, we are a passing destination. But in terms of revenue, we do 3.5 times less than the United States, 20% less than Spain, less than China …

Asians, Australians, Middle Eastern customers are not coming back anytime soon. The Americans and the Russians have the possibility, but we are still far from the usual figures. All these customers with strong purchasing power and who filled our luxury hotels will not be there for many months. These 20% of customers account for more than 40% of revenues.

How does the sector react to the arrival of the health pass?

They are worried because they cannot find staff. But they know it’s a lesser evil if they don’t want a shutdown. The most worried are the leisure parks, there is the fear of a drop in their turnover. For small sites, it can be 40%. Restaurant owners are worried because they do not know what the implementation of the health pass will have on their attendance.

On the other hand, for the campsites, they had fears but they are reassured, because they realized that things were going very well and even saw customers give them positive feedback. Once we have presented our pass, we live freely, we go to the swimming pool and to the restaurant. The health pass also reassured foreign customers, especially from northern Europe.

In view of the health and meteorological context, how is this August shaping up?

Traditionally, August is the strongest month. In this context, it looks pretty good. But the question is whether it will be as good as in previous years. It is very well reserved in the rental of furnished accommodation, via platforms, for campsites, for hotels… What will make the difference, it will be the weather rather than the sanitary pass.

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