The state behaved in an exemplary and efficient manner during the Containment.
Faced with Covid-19, the financial system (partial unemployment, PEG, deferral of charges, etc.) allowing tourism companies to withstand the shock, has been well put together and kept all its promises.
Ordinance 2020-315, which allowed the tourism industry to retain deposit money from customers for 18 months, was one of the levers of this safeguard policy.
The mobilization of professionals and institutions has paid off, despite the discontent (rightly or wrongly) of consumers and their representatives.
With almost one billion euros raised by the tourism sector from the BPI, the professionals had plenty to see… until September.
But that was without counting on the evolution of the pandemic and the epidermal reaction of the countries which, little by little, have locked their borders as summer approaches.
Most operators are already planning on … fall 2021!
The beggar-thy-neighbor policy has resulted in aberrant decisions, including between destinations in the Shenghen area, unable to coordinate their initiatives.
We know the catastrophic results in terms of attendance. In Spain, for example, France’s first outgoing customer who, this year, hardly exceeded 10% occupancy for French customers!
If the French regions, and particularly those on the coast (SUD, Occitanie, Côte d´Azur, etc.), managed to finish off a decent season, it is different for the clientele of travel agencies.
Discouraged by the state from taking the plane, stranded on the tarmac by crumbling airlines, deterred by threats of “quarantine” at destination, the French have taken refuge at home.
Traditionally, the return to school corresponds to the winter and long-haul season for the Antilles, Asia, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. A period that can represent up to 70% of the turnover of some tour operators.
But we already know that a large part of this clientele will not be there. The same causes producing the same effects, border closures and draconian access conditions, worry and restrict reservations. Most operators are already planning on … fall 2021!
The tourism industry, a crucial issue for the French economy
This delay in bookings has a disastrous effect on the Retail business. Sales in travel agencies, which have partially reopened their doors, are almost nil …
The lack of recovery has another effect: due to lack of stock, they cannot balance or “deflate” the valuables corresponding to the down payments received.
Several figures circulate on the amount of customer deposits received by professionals. The most plausible is that which borders on or even exceeds … one billion euros!
Even if consumer associations are crying out loud at the mention of this amount, it should be noted that a significant part has already been disbursed by agencies which to pay for plane tickets, which to pay down payments to hoteliers and receivers at destination.
But time goes by, the financial situation of companies (particularly tourism) is deteriorating and, little by little, the combined effect of the “pile of sand” dear to the president of the EdV, that we push back (the pile), looks like more and more to an unpinning grenade for the profession.
The stake is crucial for the French economy, whose tourism represents 8% of the GDP and 2 million jobs. Usually, the government tends to favor the importation of tourists, the one which brings foreign currency into the state coffers.
This time, faced with the closure of destinations and recurring health problems, no cocorico. The attendance of France is absent subscribers. Apart from a few border countries and large clienteles (Americans, Asians, etc.), we are far from the hundreds of millions of foreigners traveling and staying in France every summer.
75% of branches could close in the coming months
Much was expected from the Relance France and the 700 billion mobilized to boost the economy.
But the elephant gave birth to a mouse: of course, the extension of partial unemployment until the end of the year is always good to take but the 15% payable by companies, which is added to the previous 14%, does not bode well for what follows.
What is the current reality? A disaster-stricken industry, riddled with debt, which got into debt with state blessing to be able to meet its deadlines. It was a loan for a return, we believe … but the reality is quite different.
After a few months, it is necessary to return to reality: there will be no resumption of travel until next year. And the professionals will continue to type in woolen socks day after day. During this time, the pile of sand grows and its grain will not take long to permanently stop the machine …
Sorry to spoil the mood but we have to call a spade a spade and face the facts: without travelers, no recipes, and without recipes you will have to end up eating the frog!
Unfortunately, this fable conclusion is not very moral as it will result in the loss of several hundred thousand jobs and cascading bankruptcies within a few months.
According to a projection recently carried out by Cediv’s PS2E study, this mourning notice would concern 28,000 direct jobs for the distribution sector alone with its 5,000 points of sale. However, according to a survey from the same source, 75% of these agencies could close in the coming months.
Between current assets, EMPs that cannot be reimbursed and the cost of social reconversion, the addition will be steep for the State (and therefore for the taxpayer). Indeed, this disaster scenario is estimated at a total of 3 billion euros!
So what do we do ?
Posted by Jean Da Luz
Editorial director – TourMaG.com
See all articles by Jean Da Luz