After the announcement of the Minister of National Education on May 28 last on the maintenance of the colonies for this summer, the traffic of the site Cap Juniors, specialist in youth stays and summer camps was doubled at 5 p.m.
Bookings jumped 20% over the summer compared to the same period the previous year, explained Jean-Marc Folliet, manager of Cap Juniors, at the Travel Companies press conference on Monday June 8.
However if the demand is present, a large part of the operators have decided to throw in the towel for summer 2020.
The boss of Cap Juniors then said: “we have received a draft health protocol that is very complex to implement administratively and humanly, and the cost of which is difficult to estimate.
85% of the organizers have thrown in the towel we are very few to remain operational“.
A binding health protocol for the colonies
Sabine Bonnaud, General Delegate of Unosel (National Union of Educational, Linguistic and Language Training Stay Organizations) confirms this: “most of the stays will not take place.
We are in radically different levels from previous years. The operators have lost a lot of registrations, especially from local authorities, and it is difficult to see how they will re-engage. “
The health protocol which has already been slightly relaxed “is very complicated to implement“adds Antoine Bretin, director of youth stays at Verdié Voyages, even if certain points have been relaxed, notably those concerning the bunk beds, the conditions of restoration or the wearing of the mask.
“There remains the problem of social distancing and the significant cleaning constraints.“he specifies.
As a result, the partner with whom the tour operator based in Rodez collaborates has canceled all of the settlements.
“Only a few organizers will maintain their stays“specifies Sabine Bonnaud, “those who in particular have centers large enough to adapt the stays which will be organized with reduced staff”.
What about learning colonies?
If the health protocol could be further relaxed by this summer, then it will be too late for specialists in the sector to reactivate their offers and adapt the trips.
These operators could then benefit from a catch-up session with the implementation of the learning colonies announced by Jean-Michel Blanquer, the Ministry of National Education.
To implement this device, an envelope of 200 million euros will be released to finance it and allow one million pupils, in difficulty or dropping out, to catch up during the summer to the delay accumulated since the start of confinement.
“Our summer camps have always been learning” comments Antoine Bretin, “and what I regret is that we asked for 70M € to set up a compensation fund to support our sector after the cancellations of school trips and that we were not heard.
And there, the government releases € 200 million which will be distributed among a few large specialized associations.
However, for some children, school trips will also be the only time they can discover new destinations. “
Final specifications arrived this week
What another operator especially regrets, who prefers to remain anonymous: it’s the feeling of being put aside.
“Gabriel Attal, Secretary of State to the Minister of National Education and Youth has clearly indicated that the learning colonies will be set up between the State, the specialized associations and the communities.
We have the impression that the market sector is being sidelined. As if as a company we cannot care about raising children “ he tells us.
Sabine Bonnaud of Unosel also deplores very short deadlines : “We had the specifications last night (Tuesday June 9, 2020) at 7:00 pm. Operators will have to comply with it to receive the necessary label and be registered on the dedicated platform which will be online this weekend. And again all these steps are conditional “.
However, the UCPA is already in the starting blocks. “We have reduced our classic colony offers but everything that is offered on the site is available” specifies Guillaume Légaut its director general.
Learning holidays: 40,000 places available at UCPA
And on learning holidays, the French association has already announced the opening 40,000 places dedicated to the learning holiday public including 10,000 near major cities, 10,000 in centers dedicated to adults who have had to close and who will be reopened in the mountains and on the coast and 20,000 for young people who drop out.
Guillaume Légaut responds to those who might criticize the device: “Children paid dearly for this crisis with the end of school and a very heavy impact for the most vulnerable. And the State is mobilizing.
We have prepared ourselves, we are in contact with the UNAT and the ministry. We have been following the file from the start. The non-final specifications circulated on the web, on sites dedicated to instructors since April 20, 2020.
We started to work upstream, and we mobilized a lot to train the teams and implement all the protocols.
We worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, maybe some people wake up a little late.“
The fact remains that the youth travel and summer camps sector will not come out of this crisis unscathed. As another boss in the sector confided to us with bitterness: “This year it is we who can go on vacation … the loss of activity will be significant: almost 80%!”.
Let us hope that schools and works councils are not long in restarting the machine …
Posted by Céline Eymery
Editor in Chief – TourMaG.com
View all articles by Céline Eymery