Article by Alejandro Ronard Alem, Paris 21.11.2016.- Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, also in charge of Tourism and International Trade, in his introductory analysis to the
Second Annual Tourism Conference reported on measures for France to continue in the first place of the world tourist destinations, in spite of the terrorist attacks that the country suffered.
The tourism industry in France is one of the economic engines that represents 8% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and employs 2 million non-movable jobs.
Beyond the economic vector is also a vector of influence and prestige of our country in the world, said Minister Ayrault.
With almost 85 million international tourists in 2015, France is the first worldwide destination in terms of tourist reception.
The first Annual Tourism Conference was held in October 2015. The idea was to put around the same table, tour operators, all official, ministerial and local bodies, together with specialists and communicators around analyzing from A to Z the problem of the French tourist sector.
But from that date to today France has been shaken by the bloody wave of terrorist attacks.
“I am optimistic for two simple reasons”, said J-M Ayrault.
The first is the cultural and natural heritage, this is unique and that continue to attract millions of people in the world.
The second is that for 3 years we have been working to enrich our offer. This strategy of development and tourism attractiveness of our territory is shared by all professionals from the sector.
While this assertion by the Minister is true, it is also true that the cliché or image from France abroad, especially the Paris taxi driver, the waiter, the strikes and union demonstrations to be repeated, and added the series of terrorist attacks.
Since January of this year and according to the figures of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the number of tourists fell by 11% in Ile de France (Paris and its environs) and first of all the Japanese, with a brutal fall of almost 50 % (Figures provided by the Regional Tourism Committee).
The clientele with strong purchasing power is the first to desert the country.
The company specializing in this subject, ForwardKergs, released a figure of low reservations of foreign customers in Paris, which came to be reduced in 22% between November 2015 and March 2016.
And in terms of financial results, the loss could be evaluated at 750 million euros, according to professionals in Paris tourism.
The President of the Regional Committee of Tourism of the Paris Region, Frédéric Valletoux gives as a figure 1.5 billion euros of losses in case this trend persists.
“It is time that we become aware of the industrial catastrophe that the tourism sector is living in. It is time to start an ORSEC Plan with immediate effect for tourism professionals”
It should be noted that the sector has about 7500 companies in the Paris region with some 500,000 jobs.
For the luxury hotel that until last year had stood, it has been the worst month of August, in many years. Example of this is the Hotel Plaza Athénée (famous “Palace” of the luxurious Montagne Avenue in the heart of Paris) from over 280 rooms they managed to only book 60.
Christophe Laure, President of the Union of Hotel Industries of Préstigio, confessed to us that “the occupancy rate of Palaces fell sharply to 35% and to 50% in some cases.”
The luxury hotels are the one that has suffered most causing the closing of entire floors. A difficult but necessary decision. Installed in the crisis
the 8 large “Palace” Hotels are not willing to settle the prices, so in July the average rate fell only 1.5%, without effect on the client.
It is clear that this general trend has an impact on the entire cultural industry. In the case of museums, the Louvre lost 20% of visitors in the first half of 2016 compared to 2015.
The other phenomenon that adds to the crisis is the English BREXIT. After 43 years of belonging to the EU, the UK decided with a vote of 51.9%, to ride alone.
But how does this pressure and influence the results of French tourism?
The destination France for the British is now a more expensive destination. The holiday budget has reduced from 350 euros for them after the Brexit and the three territories most sensitive to this trend are the Haut of France (north of the hexagon) Bretagne and Normandie where Britons constitute the first foreign clientele with about 944,208 Hotel nights, booked last year.
British customers represent 59% of the international clientele with 7.2 million hotel nights in the Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, and where the consumption of service goods is around 800 million euros.
We must expect a loss of 15% of the foreign visit, the regional tourism committee said.
Finally in the case of the Bretagne, this Region receives from 600 to 700,000 visitors from the United Kingdom.
And how does the government intend to counter this trend and reach 100 million foreign visitors by 2020?
The measures taken recently in favor of the sector is to reinforce security within tourist sites. An immediate action plan to ensure the safety of tourists over the entire national territory costs 15.5 million euros.
Complementary measures to reinforce the information actions of French and foreign tourists, have a cost of 10.5 million euros.
Measures to help professionals and employees in the tourist sector costs more than 11 million euros.
Measures to favor the most modest French holiday costs 5.7 million euros.
All these immediate measures are in addition to those that the Regions have begun to realize in order to improve the image and the attractiveness of the destination of France abroad and at national level.