Tourism: How Ile-de-France Want to Get Out of a ‘Terrifying’ Year

Paris, the capital of tourism, was before. Covid blew up one of the main sectors in the Ile-de-France economy. The numbers are brutal. Last year, the capital welcomed about 33.1 million fewer tourists than the previous year. Like all destinations, it suffered an unprecedented “collapse” in demand and “widespread introduction of travel restrictions”, according to the latest report by the Regional Tourism Commission (CRT).

Paris and Ile-de-France welcomed about 17.5 million tourists in 2020, including 12.6 million French, in a sign of an “unprecedented decline in tourism activity”. These visitors brought in 6.4 billion euros in tourism revenue. Unsurprisingly, the decrease is “more noticeable for international clients with -78% of stays” versus -56% for French clients, or 15.7 million fewer tourists from France compared to 2019.

According to the center, “the tourist activity has completely stopped as of mid-March” with the start of the first reservation. Then a “certain recovery” was observed at the end of these restrictions “from 11 May” until the second detention at the end of October.

Business tourism has suffered particularly hard

“Tourism in Paris and Ile-de-France has been able to benefit from a respite, particularly between July and October, with activity mainly driven by residents of Ile-de-France, the French and a few local clients – Germany, the United States, the Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy.” .

The hotel sector, which tried hard, suffered from the “brunt of the absence of international businessmen and customers” and closed a number of establishments from mid-March until the end of May, and then from the end of October. This resulted in a 68% decrease in hotel nights in 2020, compared to -55% for seasonal rentals, compared to 2019.

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With 995 rooms, the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile (17th century), like almost all hotels, was severely affected by the health crisis.  / LP / Olivier Boitet
With 995 rooms, the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile (17th century), like almost all hotels, was severely affected by the health crisis. / LP / Olivier Boitet

Hotels in the capital in particular suffered from the lack of international clients, “70% of their turnover is due to this,” especially in high-end establishments, cites the CRT, while the repetition of museums and monuments suffered greatly from “140“ days of extraordinary closure. ”And so on. The Louvre and the possessions of Versailles saw their attendance decrease by 72% and 76%, respectively (see graph).

As for business tourism in Paris and Ile-de-France, which “can account for up to half of hotel nights” annually, it has suffered greatly with the successive cancellations of trade fairs and professional events, but it remains a “powerful lever” in the recovery.

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Hamida Rizk, Vice President of Tourism in the World Trade Area, Hamida Rizk, explains: “Over the past year 700 trade fairs were canceled, and we have been the world’s leading destination for this sector of activity that includes trade fair organizers, caterers, florists and photo companies. There is a district. “Big gaps in this sector in terms of state aid. We think we need to try health protocols that allow us to reopen fairly quickly with health conditions and modified standards.”

Tourist volunteers trained in health rules

But in this sector, as elsewhere, the outlook remains particularly bleak. According to a study by the World Tourism Commission, economic players do not expect to return to “normal” activity before 2023 to restore attendance levels and financial income equivalent to what was there before the massive hit of Covid.

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This does not preclude initiatives to try to resume tourism this summer. “To reassure the tourists, we will launch a regional health brand by the summer,” says Hamida Rizk. We are still working with the Regional Tourism Commission and the Pasteur Institute to develop it. The idea is to classify places of culture and tourism so that visitors know that all protocols here are ready to ensure optimal hygienic quality.

Finally, the area also depends on “tourism volunteers” to allow tourist activity to resume. It was established in 2016 to help the sector in particular after the terrorist attacks, and will be used again this year. “We expect at least 1000 volunteers this summer, who will be trained in checkpoint gestures and comply with sanitary rules. The idea is to do everything so that the activity starts again as quickly as possible. This summer will not be like any other, but our desire is to make it a tourist and cultural summer.” And mathematically. “

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