Sport Covid 19. Mountain professionals dig tracks in the face of an uncertain winter

19:20  03 october  2020
19:20  03 october  2020 Source:   ouest-france.fr

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Les professionnels du tourisme espèrent attirer sur les pistes enneigées les familles qui ont découvert la montagne cet été. © HPTE - Herranz archives Tourism professionals hope to attract families who have discovered the mountain this summer to the snow-covered slopes.

In ski resorts, it's not the intoxication of the peaks. In the midst of the Covid-19 epidemic, foreign customers are missing out. So they are working to attract French holidaymakers, in the wake of a successful summer.

"The mountain wins you over", said an old advertising slogan. At the start of the winter season, it is above all the concern that is winning over tourism professionals, with a health crisis forcing it.

Their 82nd congress was held this week in Grenoble. "The signals are not very optimistic", y summed up in a delicate euphemism Caroline Leboucher, general manager of Atout France (Tourism development agency of France).

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Based on a panel of 600 professionals, the firm G2A , which specializes in analyzing tourist traffic, forecasts an average drop of 26% for accommodation providers. A recovery is only expected in 11 to 24 months at best, according to Caroline Leboucher.

Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, secrétaire d’Etat chargé du tourisme. © AFP Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Secretary of State in charge of tourism. Prioritizing the English market

We cannot hide the reality: there will be fewer international customers, predicts Jean-Marc Silva, director of France Montagnes , the organization responsible for promoting the sector.

However, foreigners represent 28% of the clientele of French resorts. The British lead (9%), followed by the Belgians (4%) and the Dutch (3%). A ski season is a total turnover of 11 billion euros. It is therefore necessary to be proactive to prevent the collapse of the activity.

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The English market has priority! Diplomatic solutions must be found to avoid the dissuasive fortnight, for his part, considers Alexandre Maulin, president of Domaines skiables de France (DSF) . He believes that a simple Covid test would be sufficient to allow the British to return to France this winter.

On this issue, the Secretary of State for Tourism, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, assured to be mobilized with his colleague Clément Beaune (European Affairs). We don't have a magic wand, but determination.

As for Belgium and the Netherlands, DSF pleads for bilateral agreements if the European Union cannot agree on the conditions of movement between countries.

Favor short stays

In this uncertain winter, last minute reservations will turn into last seconds, forecasts Jean-Marc Silva. The director of France Montagne also sees requests for short stays and flexibility in the dates to go out from Saturday to Saturday.

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Atout France also recommends taking an interest in still neglected markets such as Lombardy, Spain and Sweden.

Seducing French summer visitors

The weakening of foreign customers has brought to light the need for the mountain to conquer the French in winter as it conquered hearts this summer, recalled Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, the Secretary of State for Tourism .

After great uncertainty, the summer season ended with an increase of 5 points compared to 2019, with the particularity that a third of these holidaymakers discovered the mountain in summer.

Catching up with snow classes

But while it is a question of stopping the erosion of the French clientele, many resorts are alarmed by the cascading cancellations of snow classes ". In Châtel (Haute-Savoie), a ski resort with eleven holiday centers, there are no firm reservations at the moment. Some centers do not know if they will open this season !, worries Michel Girard, director of lifts.

Questioned on this subject, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne evoked an agreement with the Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer - quite receptive to this file: directives will be sent to signal that these trips can take place. As such, he acknowledged the existence of conflicting directives at the lower levels of the administration.

Restore night trains

Another subject of concern for those working in the mountains is the rail service to the valleys. We have a President who wants to put back night trains because there are only a handful left, assured Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne. His counterpart in Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari would work there with the SNCF.

In the great pre-winter vagueness, one point brings together all the actors of the Grenoble congress: No one wants to relive the nightmare of March 14 when the brutal closure of the ski resorts was announced, a prelude to the general confinement of the country ...

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