Jean Damien Lesay for Localtis
Two years after the start of the health crisis and the resulting travel restrictions around the world, and in France in particular, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister Delegate for Tourism, said on Tuesday April 26 during a conference press that the tourism sector was experiencing a “beautiful recovery”. Asked to comment on the situation at the start of 2022, he hailed both the good results for the winter season and the happy prospects for spring and summer.
“The ski season has been excellent, said the Minister, despite a start without the British who returned massively from January 15. We are growing on practically all the massifs with record occupancy figures for some.” Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne detailed these increases in attendance: +10% in the Pyrenees or even +20% in the resorts of Isère compared to 2019. winter sports, whereas in recent years it has been overtaken by the United States and Austria.
The mountain, a “privileged” destination
These ministry figures are confirmed by industry players. Also on April 26, the National Observatory of Mountain Stations (ONSM) estimated in a pre-season report that ski resorts had benefited from a “return to normal carried by French holidaymakers”. The bed occupancy rate for the current season is 69%, compared to 70% for 2019-2020. According to a press release from the National Association of Mayors of Mountain Resorts (ANMSM), “the mountain remains despite everything a privileged destination for a quarter of French people”. The elected officials also note that “the environmental criterion is also beginning to impose itself as a factor in the choice of the tourist destination”. The ANMSM even reports “encouraging” projections for the 2022-2023 season since the intentions of French people leaving for the mountains are rising sharply to potentially reach 35% market share.
Closer to home, the results of the Easter weekend were deemed “very satisfactory” by Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne. And this recovery is observed including in the big cities, territories which, according to the minister, “have long been penalized more than the others and where there was a difficulty in bringing back an international clientele”. Paris, for example, experienced a hotel occupancy rate of 91.7% during the Easter weekend, i.e. +3.7 points compared to the same period in 2019. This phenomenon is combined with the return of customers “long-haul” foreign travel, notably from the United States and Canada, an increase in occupancy of 5-star hotels and average prices up by 30%. “Ile-de-France and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region pull these averages up”, commented Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne again.
A “very, very dynamic” summer
The forecasts for next summer are not to be outdone. For the outdoor hotel industry, we are heading towards a “very, very good season”, with +24% of reservations to date compared to 2019 and +30% if we take the turnover forecast. “As impressive” rates are also recorded for the hotel industry. The air sector is also taking on “colors”, according to Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne who, citing the Fnam (National Federation of Aviation and its Trades), announces that we will find 100% of the 2019 level on the courts and medium-haul, while long-haul should be 85-90% compared to the pre-health crisis, “because journeys to Asia are still penalized and there are ‘zero Covid’ policies in these countries ‘ very restrictive for mobility”. As for travel companies, however, the situation has not yet been restored, since activity remains at -15% compared to 2019, with business travel remaining the most penalized.
If France is acclaimed by the Americans, the Belgians, the Italians or the Spaniards, who make it their first foreign destination, the Minister Delegate for Tourism was pleased that “the French [soient] a European exception in the sense that a majority (60%) consider staying in their country of residence, and the summer season can be very, very dynamic”.
In terms of destinations, nearly 50% of departure forecasts relate to the coast. Urban destinations are back in second position (29% of travel intentions) ahead of rural and mountain areas which had seduced the French at the height of the pandemic, in 2020 and 2021. We are finally seeing an “increase in the taste for roaming”, noted the Minister Delegate for Tourism: 22% of French people are considering this mode of vacation (+7%).
But this enthusiasm will not be without posing some difficulties. “We will have to prepare to face it”, warned Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, pointing to the “recruitment dimension”. According to the BMO barometer (labour needs) of Pôle emploi, there would indeed be 360,000 vacancies in the HCR sector (hotels, cafes, restaurants).
By way of solutions, the Minister first mentioned the “elements worked on by the social partners themselves, such as the agreement to revalue the grids [salariales] which can reach up to 16% and can contribute to the attractiveness of professions”. But beyond remuneration, it is also a question of finding “new balances in terms of work organization”. schedules that are more suitable for employees in the sector.
For its part, the government is setting up a campaign to promote tourism professions endowed with 9 million euros on the model of what the army did “with a very impactful campaign”, recognized Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne . Furthermore, in partnership with the French Institute of Tourism, the monemploitourisme.fr platform aims to bring together supply and demand in the sector. “It is very useful in preparing for the summer season”, concluded the Minister Delegate.