“The 100 km circle may increase concentrically”

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<span class = "image" data-attrib = "Eric Dessons / JDD" data-caption = "For Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, secretary of state responsible for foreign trade, tourism and the French-speaking world, the summer holidays "will be a health conquest".

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© Eric Dessons / JDD
For Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, secretary of state responsible for foreign trade, tourism and the French-speaking world, the summer holidays “will be a health conquest”.


“Summer 2020 will be a ‘blue white red’ summer!”, Says in an interview with JDD Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Secretary of State for Tourism. And for good reason: the rule enacted this week will be to stay in France for his summer holidays. The collaborator of Jean-Yves Le Drian (Europe and Foreign Affairs) judges that the limit of 100 kilometers “already allows local tourism”. Should we be content with it? Not necessarily. “If, all together, we continue to be very vigilant about precautions and barrier gestures, this circle may increase concentrically,” he said.

Read also – Transport, reservations, beaches: the uncertainties still hanging over the summer holidays

Will the hundred kilometer rule last all summer?

This rule, which applies at least until June 2, already allows local tourism. A culture-nature offer reopens in the green departments. If, all together, we continue to be very vigilant about precautions and barrier gestures, this circle may increase concentrically. In 1936 paid vacation was a social conquest; in 2020, the holidays will be a health conquest!

If you can leave more than 100 kilometers from home, how will you get around?

Tourism is the combination of an offer and mobility. Mobility is the key. SNCF is gradually going back in charge. From the end of May, we will be at 70% of the offer. Let us try to extend the season until the fall, by encouraging people who are not in the working life to leave on the “wings of the season”.

The French “will surely favor travel by train or individual vehicle”

When will we see more clearly about these international trips?

An appointment was given at the end of May to specify the opening procedures for a certain number of tourist activities. With regard to borders, the first subject is that of internal borders within the EU. The European Commission and Commissioner Thierry Breton published recommendations on Wednesday. Among which is coordination between Member States for the lifting of traffic restrictions. It will take several more weeks. This issue will be on the agenda of the meeting with the EU Tourism Ministers in which I will participate next Wednesday.

And the air?

This summer, the air will surely be further penalized, because of the borders surely still closed. Even if air travel is essential, for island destinations like Corsica or overseas, the French will surely favor travel by train or individual vehicles.

How can we prevent 5 million Ile-de-France residents from flying to the Var coast this summer?

It is based on responsibility. The French held for two months of containment with responsibility. I trust them. Likewise, I trust them for a harmonious distribution throughout the territory. It will no longer necessarily be the race, all together in the same place. Because I think the reflex will be to go to places that we know, where we feel safe. There will be the need to find yourself in a cocoon, with loved ones that we have not been able to see for a long time because of the confinement. There will therefore be a fairly significant affinity tourism.

A “blue white red” summer

Will France be able to maintain its first world place in terms of tourist attractiveness?

Summer 2020 will be a “blue-white-red” summer! It is the French who will be the engine of the revival of the tourism economy.

Can we still put our towel on the beach?

Some beaches were able to reopen after work between local elected officials and prefects, but in a dynamic beach model. We will no longer pile up next to each other. The use of the beach, for a time, will evolve.

What do the health protocols for hotels and restaurants contain?

The professionals worked tirelessly to produce a detailed protocol, with ten themes that cover the layout of work in the kitchen, service in the dining room or the development of contactless payment. It is a lacemaker’s job but which is likely to give health reinsurance, both to employees and customers. The CIT made it possible to collect the protocols of seven other sectors, including that of leisure parks, which are professionals in the management of flows, or even platforms that offer furnished accommodation. Because there is a very legitimate demand for equity between the accommodations. What I do know is that professionals are passionate about their hospitality profession. They have ants in their legs and want to offer pretty experiences to the French in the best health safety conditions. And they prepare meticulously for it.

15 to 20% of restaurateurs are threatened

What social distancing will be required in restaurants?

Professionals would like a distance of one meter between tables. Work continues with the health authorities.

Small establishments will particularly suffer…

The application of the health protocol will effectively lead to the fact that the gauge with which restaurants will be able to open at first will be less than their current capacities, sometimes by 25%, 30% or 40%. This is why we will support them over time, because the recovery will be gradual. For the summer season, the municipalities are also working to offer additional space on the terrace and this is also an answer to maintain a profitable tonnage.

Do you expect social breakage? Has a lot of bankruptcies in catering?

According to professionals, 15 to 20% of them – sometimes already fragile at the start of the crisis – are threatened. But we are doing our best to help them. Because they represent a part of the soul of the country.

Night clubs will be among the most lastingly impacted

How to reassure the French so that they return to the restaurant?

Respect for health security will be decisive. The professionals themselves will be uncompromising. It is because there will be reinsurance that customers will return. A logo will thus make it possible to distinguish establishments which respect all the precautions. I say to the French: “go back!” in good time. It is important to find these happy days. We have also decided to double the ceiling for restaurant tickets, which can also be used on weekends and public holidays.

Read also – JDD INFO. Coronavirus: rescue in sight for tourism

What about night clubs? Will they still exist?

The night sector also contributes significantly to the tourism economy. We have very efficient professionals. They will be among the most lastingly impacted. But, their DNA is creativity. We will also help them cope.

“Nothing would be worse than having to manage a second epidemic wave”

Are we going to reopen the castles and other sites that make up the richness of our heritage?

As soon as a health protocol is established, we want to reopen as many activities as possible when the time comes. With precautions, sometimes constraints, but the goal is that. June 21 is the start of summer. I wish that on this date, and maybe even before if the sanitary conditions allow it, the maximum of places is accessible so that the summer season can really start. And that we can head towards “the upturn” as Léon Blum said in 1936. See you around May 25: on this date, we will be able to detail the opening calendar for a certain number of sites.

Is there an Orsec “reconfiguration” plan for the summer, if the situation deteriorates?

We are on a crest line, between the need for sanitary rules to be respected and the ambition and the will to start again. Nothing would be worse than having to manage a second epidemic wave. It would be a big blow to the morale of the country and a big blow to the economy. But if necessary, if clusters reappear, the hypothesis of a reconfiguration is an option mentioned by Jean Castex. The health of French people is our priority.

Will this summer vacation be like the previous ones?

They will be a little different, but just as successful!

Each month of confinement “represents 10 to 15 billion euros in revenue less for tourism”

What have you planned to facilitate the organization of French vacations?

I worked with professionals to make reservations and cancellations more flexible and I thank the UMIH, the GNI, the EVs and the SETO for their commitment. I call on the French to start planning. In addition, the President of the Republic, who has made the fight against house arrest a strong commitment since the start of the five-year term, asked the Government to work on arrangements for the beginning of June. The idea is to allow everyone to have a summer, to change pace in one way or another. In this spirit, I am working with the National Agency for Holiday Vouchers and the President of the Regions of France, Renaud Muselier, on a special device for 2020.

Even with 18 billion euros in aid, will French tourism be able to save itself from the doldrums?

It is a real tricolor tourism rescue plan, wanted by the President, that we have put in place! This plan is the fruit of two months of hard work that I led, within the Tourism Sector Committee, with professionals and regions. The sector has been hit hard since March: each month of containment represents 10 to 15 billion euros in revenue less for the tourism sector. That is why the President made it a national priority. We know how much tourism is a large chain of actors, from the hotel and restaurant manager to the campsite manager, via the event organizer or the travel agency. If only one of these links is damaged, the whole chain suffers. With an impact upstream and downstream: ten restaurants that close, that’s as many fewer outlets for our farmers, our fishermen … Tourism is a vital organ of the French economy.

Never has an entire sector experienced an outright exemption from social security contributions.

How are these 18 billion in aid broken down?

This is 9 billion euros in direct aid, with in particular the continuation until the end of the year of partial activity and the solidarity fund. And that is another 9 billion euros in financing and investment, with loans specially adapted to the sector. In particular, I wanted to quadruple the Bpifrance Tourism loan by bringing it to 1 billion euros. Redeemable over 10 years, with a longer maturity than conventional loans, it has a 2-year grace period. It is decisive in helping tourism professionals to do the next 2 seasons without the pressure of reimbursement. In addition, with Bruno Le Maire and the French Banking Federation, we have set up a specific State Guaranteed Loan (PGE), the “PGE Saison”. It will allow borrowing the equivalent of the best three months of turnover, which can represent 70 or 80% for seasonal activities where the ordinary EMP is capped at 25% of turnover.

Professionals regret that these 18 billion euros represent above all the possibility of contracting debt, rather than an investment effort…

Half of this 18 billion euros is a business expense that the State directly assumes. And that is cash which does not have to come out of their treasuries! The partial activity supported to the tune of 5 billion euros, it is nothing other than the nationalization of wages, I fought for it to last. This is the case at least until the end of the year. It is direct help. The two billion euros in exemption from payroll taxes announced by the President on April 24 is also direct aid. And this is unprecedented. Never has an entire sector experienced an outright exemption from social security contributions. And 20% of the social security contributions due since March will be transformed to give additional cash to companies. This interdepartmental committee for tourism is a ray of hope. For professionals, who are given visibility until the end of the year on support. And for the French, to whom we give a perspective for the summer.

French tourism in France “must reduce this shortfall”

How much do you assess the shortfall caused by the absence of foreign tourists?

17 million foreigners visit France each summer and spend 14 billion euros in July and August. It is therefore French tourism in France which must mitigate this shortfall. On the one hand because it is essential to get fresh air after the traumatic experience. And on the other hand, a form of appeal for solidarity so that the French, who spent less during confinement, up to 60 billion euros, re-inject part of it during their summer stay. We will also launch a campaign with Atout France and the territories around the theme “This summer I’m visiting France!”. I deeply believe that this desire for France will lead to magnificent rediscoveries, around these famous “black paths” taken a few years ago by the writer Sylvain Tesson.

Do insurers contribute enough to saving French tourism? There was talk of asking them for additional support…

The President of the Republic was indeed clear in asking them to “do more and do better”. Operating losses will represent, from March to December, 10 billion euros. The state covers part of it with partial unemployment and contribution holidays. Insurers must take their share of this national effort. They announced that they would increase their contribution to the tune of 1 billion euros for the tourism sector. It is already that, but is it enough? Let’s face it, the expectations of the sector remain high.

Are not this crisis and this support plan also an opportunity to change our tourism industries and our consumption patterns?

To respond to the emergency, we acted quickly and strongly. With this tourism plan, we also want to give tourism businesses the means to develop and transform them. Because our status as world champion in tourism is not guaranteed for life! It requires us to be at the forefront of innovation. My goal is that French tourism is the pioneer of the tourism of tomorrow. Consumer expectations will change. Before we took ever bigger planes, to go even further, in places where there were always more of us… It’s up to us to be creative, to adapt our offer, to invent this tourism which will surely be turned more authentic and more environmentally friendly experiences.

Objective, “develop more sustainable tourism”

Precisely, out of these 18 billion in aid, are we also doing recovery and preparing for the future?

Yes! Thanks to the 1.3 billion euros provided in equity by Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and Bpifrance, 7 billion euros of investment will be generated everywhere in France. This will make it possible to develop more sustainable tourism, which also takes digital better into account. And this will help support industries to adapt their infrastructure, I am thinking of certain mountain, spa or coastal resorts. With this crisis, some say that they have no future. I tell them, we will together build the future of French tourism!

What is this more sustainable tourism?

With Élisabeth Borne, I work there a lot with mountain elected officials and professionals from the French ski areas. Low and mid-mountain resorts are facing the impact of climate change and less snow. We must build with them a real tourism of the four seasons which will make them live from January 1st to December 31st.

Cruise professionals have taken the measure of the need for health reinsurance and are working on it

Will seasonal workers have a season?

We do not forget them. The unemployment insurance reform has been postponed so that access to their rights is not made more difficult. With the French Tourism Institute, we will launch in mid-June a digital platform bringing together supply and demand, because we will have to be very reactive to relaunch the season. Beyond the seasonal workers, I send a signal of support to many people who have precarious situations, such as tour guides, whose distress I know. We are working on specific solutions for them.

Do cruises still have a future?

We all have in mind a few cruise ship situations that have focused media attention. Today, cruises are still stopped. But I can tell you that the cruise professionals have taken the measure of the need for health reinsurance and are working on it. The situation will surely improve more quickly for nautical and river transport, which are also important sectors in France.

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