France or abroad? Adventure or relaxation? Train, plane or motorhome? Culture or nature? At the dawn of a new year where the health crisis persists and continues to modify the needs and plans of travelers, what about their aspirations and the tourist destinations they choose?
At the national level, Tourisme Bretagne conducted a survey in partnership with ADN tourisme, national UNAT and 10 regional unions as well as 11 regional tourism committees to learn more about the needs and expectations of the French in terms of holidays. Some seem new, others emerging while still others are already well known. Results allowing us to take stock of the trends to follow, in particular those which have seen their popularity increase considerably since the health crisis.
Relaxation, relaxation, disconnection, strolling, lazing around, contemplating… so many words that automatically resonate with the holidays in the imagination of the French and have done so for a long time. The figures show that this hardly changes, 62% want to take their time during the holidays, in particular to relax in peace. During this parenthesis, 78% want to discover new landscapes and combine this with discoveries of heritage (69%) and gastronomy (54%). Freeing themselves from their daily lives seems a priority for 63% of them, with also a need to free themselves from time constraints for 54%.
The health crisis has obviously caused changes in behavior and expectations French people during these periods of rest, with first and foremost the possibility of teleworking at their place of residence. They are 74% to affirm that they would be ready to adopt this practice if they had the possibility of it. Last-minute bookings are also a key trend in these times of pandemic, with an explosion of the latter on holidays in the past two years. Roaming is also gaining in popularity, 58% of respondents want to travel by motorhome, van or van. Finally the ecological dimension seems increasingly important as confirmed by the 65% who say they want to avoid flying.
A growing ecological commitment which is reflected in the French people’s interest in sustainable tourism. They are so 70% want to travel more responsibly and also 69% want to live like a local during their stay. These desires translate into concrete actions such as the purchase of local products, selective sorting or the collection of their waste. However the term responsible tourism can be a source of apprehension for some travelers with many obstacles such as price, comfort or even the assurance that this contributes in a beneficial way to the territories.
Obviously, expectations differ according to the types of holidaymakers. Thus those who are nicknamed “idle vacationers” are mainly active families with children who are looking for relaxation and calm, especially by the sea for 70% of them. As for young holidaymakers, often classified in the “hyperactive” category, they have a more limited budget but want to do as much activity as possible and are above all looking for adventure, especially abroad for 74% of them. .
The expectations of the French in terms of ideal holidays remain simple and realistic and revolve around 4 main points:
- Of the convivial holidays as a couple, with family or friends
- Live a change of scenery and power recharge
- Go to the discovery and get rich new experiences and knowledge
- The search for good weather
Expectations and needs that are also reflected in the choice of vacation spots. A choice in particular has been governed by the various health constraints for the past two years, thus giving rise to new flagship destinations while major tourist destinations are struggling to bring tourists back. Jean-Pierre Mas, president of Les Entreprises du Voyage, notes a drop in activity in all segments of the tourism industry since December but nevertheless underlines the recovery in travel intentions.
Travel intentions are emerging, for the moment mainly online, and do not systematically translate into firm reservations. And when it does, it’s very short term. But this activity leads us to think that we are finally going to return to a normal cycle, that we are going to live with the Covid, that we are going to travel with it.
Jean-Pierre Mas, President of Travel Companies
Regarding the February holidays, which are fast approaching, France remains the main destination thanks in particular to its many ski resorts which, this year, are not deprived of their ski lifts. The absence of destinations usually highly appreciated during this period stands out, such as Morocco, Thailand or Tunisia, the borders of these countries remaining closed to international tourists. Nevertheless, new destinations are appearing in the ranking, such as Finland and the United Arab Emirates, driven by Dubai and its World Expo.
Spring break is also significantly behind in terms of reservations with a sales volume by destination still lower than that recorded in 2019. Only the Dominican Republic, the 3rd best-selling destination to date for the period, recorded a sales volume higher than that observed in 2019, with a growth of 19%. The classification does not differ that much from that of the winter holidays, only 3 destinations appear, namely Greece, Tunisia and the United States.
Spain thus remains a leading destination again this year, being in the top 3 destinations for both winter and spring break. However, Madrid and Barcelona are losing some of their tourist appeal to the benefit of other destinations in the territory such as Zaragoza and Alicante which record a hotel occupancy rate of around 27%, Bilbao and Malaga which show occupancy rates of around 26% or Sevilla with an occupancy rate of 24.2%. Only the Balearic Islands show an occupancy rate of less than 10%, in particular due to a lack of international tourists.