Economic report on the tourism economy by Atout France

Despite a return to tourism with fanfare, several concerns have been raised by the French state operator regarding the habits of travelers, their new desires and the lack of professional manpower.

Monthly observations

Atout France first admits that the recovery in tourism is confirmed and tangent to 2019 levels. Indeed, international tourism receipts thus amounted to €4 billion in March 2022, i.e. only -4% of the pre-pandemic level. Note: the outbreak of war in Ukraine for the moment does not affect tourist behavior. Economic activity therefore remains a positive player in the balance of payments: despite the recovery in spending by French people abroad, the balance is positive compared to 2021 (+€1.5 billion).

Atout France then notes a great presence of domestic customersstill massive: the volumes of overnight stays by French people in the territory almost reached the levels of the first 3 months of 2019 [-4,8%] and recorded a jump of +23.4% compared to the first quarter of 2021.

The private rental continues, meanwhile, its positive momentum initiated during the pandemic. With demand and supply exceeding +31% and +34% respectively compared to 2019, C2C continues to meet visitor expectations, particularly in rural and mid-mountain areas.

Regarding the hotel sector, it is recovering even more in April 2022. Indeed, the occupancy differential compared to 2019 is narrowing and average prices are clearly on the rise allowing the RevPAR [le revenu moyen par chambre disponible-indicateur dépendant du taux d’occupation et du prix moyen par chambre louée] to return to levels in line with pre-crisis values. The high-end segment stands out by recording a significant improvement in its performance, benefiting from the return of international customers from Europe and the Americas. Establishments in intramural Paris or in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region have been the greatest beneficiaries.

Regarding air transport, the latter has not returned to its pre-crisis level: international arrivals remain below 2019 levels by 33%. While the European and North American markets have recovered, Asian flows remain inert.

The outlook for the summer period remains positive. The barometers on travel intentions reflect a significant need for holidays. Airline order books continue to grow, benefiting destinations around the Mediterranean in particular.

Vigilance points

Despite a rather encouraging return to tourism, certain aspects remain to be monitored.

Recruitment difficulties first of all, because the labor shortages will impact the supply this summer as well as the price positioning of France.

The consumer behavior, mobility and choice of destination domestic and international customers are going to suffer definite trade-offs because of inflation and current purchasing power.

The C2C boom and the mass return of customers to certain areas will raise the specter of overtourism and its impact on quality of life and real estate prices.

At the level of air connectivity and international competitivenessSpain is making a strong comeback after regaining very strong air connectivity.

The clienteles all show a strong appetite for sustainable tourism.

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