French Tourism COVID19 Impact and Future


From mid-March 2020, our B&B & Holidays Stay business came to a stop with the announcement of a new global pandemic. Our business in France mirrored the Tourism Industry globally, as around the world accommodation, Tourist destinations & restaurants were bought to a total halt by COVID19. The factors impacting the industry being fear of new invisible infection, the implementation of Government National Lockdowns, and International border closures across the world. Almost overnight stopping the flow of 95 million inbound visitors, who arrive in France each year.

Our experience over the following weeks was responding to the constant stream of cancellations for March through to December. We watched our 2020 income disappear. The only positive light was many of our clients transferred their reservations to 2021. We opened our 2021 Reservation calendar exceedingly early. Fortunately, relief came within a month as the French Government rolled out assistance to the tourism industry and small business to ensure we will be here to open next year, and we will.

Now in the deconfinement period, we plan to reopen our B&B from 1st of July, to a slow high season of mostly French clients. We still have many of our autumn bookings in place, with optimistic international clients waiting on the reopening of the borders in their respective countries and the EU. We expect by September international borders will be reopening and anticipate a busier Autumn season. A positive mood can be seen in new enquiries coming in from the USA and UK. There are clients who wish to travel as soon as they are permitted. From all the chaos, I know two things this year’s will be like no other, and the desire for French holidays is still present.

The bigger picture for French tourism in COVID19 deconfinement period, is one of contrasts. There is a measurable number of Chambre d’hotes & Gites choosing to stay closed until 2021. Owners factoring personal health risks, the still unknown COVID19 future, new rigorous cleaning demands, new food service requirements. After consideration many have decided to stay closed for the remaining 2020 tourism season. This matches a component of travellers who will loyally vacation at home in 2020.

This conservative response by business owners and some holiday makers, contrasts with those who cannot wait to travel, and the reopening of other accommodation business for the summer. To be frank it has been confusing extracting official information of all the new considerations and procedures for reopening accommodation businesses. The evolving nature of the pandemic has had us all re-evaluating on a weekly basis. Now most feel confident and ready, having transitioned business procedures to meet new virus standards for hygiene. Detailed information is now available for clients, with their reassurance the new number 1 factor for the accommodation industry as it moves forward in the post COVID19 trading environment.

There has been a positive reception internationally to the French Government management of the crisis. France has been seen to be responsive & serious about the population’s safety. The direct result for a few countries is they are perceived as safe destination for visitors for the second half of 2020-21. SAFE being the new buzz word for international tourism. The slow tourism holidays available in France, will be a great allure. For none more so, than for those who spent confinement in apartments in cities. Not all countries, or tourism business, will be seen this way by potential travellers and holiday makers. Yet I see a possible increase in the number of visitors choosing rural France for holidays over the next two years. Certainly, this is reflected in our clients, many who are rescheduling their EU holidays destinations with greater focus on France.

Thank you for reading

9 June 2020

Vanessa Williamson


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