The rise of the Covid-19 is fueling uncertainty for the tourism sector and shaking up the plans of many French people.
Despite the government’s encouragement to leave, the outlook for the All Saints’ Day holidays is gloomy for the tourism sector, between reinforced health constraints, curfews and tourists who make up their minds at the last moment.
“I encourage the French to book” for the All Saints’ Day holidays, Secretary of State for Tourism Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said earlier last week, promising that the government would “do everything” to ensure that the tourist season “until Christmas can unfold”. “Professionals reiterated their commitments (…) that canceled reservations cost the French nothing,” he added.
More the rise of the Covid-19 which has led to the establishment of a curfew since last night in many large metropolises in France, stirs up uncertainty and despite everything shakes up the plans of many French people.
Last minute reservations
And this results in the first place in last minute bookings which deprive professionals of visibility. “Friday evening, we had six rooms reserved and we had eight more during the day on Saturday” for these holidays, testifies Serge Vervoitte, owner for 16 years of the four-star hotel-restaurant Le Goyen, in Audierne in Finistère .
“We only have last minute reservations. Sometimes it’s even in the evening for the same evening”, also assures Myriam Guede, reception manager of the Château de Nieuil, a four-star hotel located in the heart of the Charente countryside. .
Beyond the fact that people decide at the last minute, attendance is also lower. Last Monday, the day when the Interministerial Committee devoted to the tourism sector (CIT) was held, i.e. five days before the holidays, the reservation rate was only slightly above 13% (13.3% in the regions, 13.9 % in Ile-de-France), against around 47% a year earlier (37.9% in regions, 55.9% in Ile-de-France), according to the specialist firm MKG Consulting.
“The trend is quite catastrophic for urban tourism, and having a curfew does not help matters”, confirms Didier Arino, director of the specialist firm Protourism. Beyond Paris and its region, “there is also an impact for metropolises which had tended not to fare too badly this year, such as those of Aix-Marseille or Montpellier”, observes Didier Arino .
Dynamic Brittany and Normandy
Can rural tourism benefit from the situation? Dynamic during the summer, it “does not represent considerable volumes at this time of the year”, recalls Didier Arino. But coastal areas should be popular with city dwellers wishing to escape the curfew, such as Normandy or Brittany for example.
On the ground, professionals testify to a small “thrill” for All Saints’ Day, without however the account being there, like Serge Vervoitte, who estimates that the occupancy rate of his establishment a stone’s throw from Pointe du Raz, will reach 35 or 40% for these two weeks, against 80 to 85% usually. The owner of the two-star Le Chantilly hotel in Deauville, Rachid Oumakhlouf, for his part estimates the decline at 10 to 15%, the proximity of the capital helping. But “before the holidays, the month of October was very difficult”, he explains.
This ebb is all the more damaging as the All Saints’ Day holidays have been increasingly popular in recent years, with around 8 million departures last year. Departures abroad also remain low between closed destinations and fortnightly measures.
About the health protocols, the professionals say on the other hand “to be well established” and that all is going well with the customers. Because if the government has not prohibited travel, some territories wanted to anticipate an influx of tourists, such as the upscale seaside resort of Touquet-Paris-Plage, which will establish a curfew. In Loire-Atlantique and Vendée, the prefectures have extended the obligation to wear the mask.
Faced with this complicated situation, at the end of September, among the emergency measures taken by the government, 758.3 million euros were granted via the Solidarity Fund to 527,834 companies. As for the loan guaranteed by the State (PGE) “tourism”, it was allocated or pre-allocated to 187,767 companies for a total amount of 18.4 billion euros.