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by Georges Panayotis

When the tide goes out, the sand leaves behind all its irregularities, holes and puddles, empty seashells and dried seaweed … When holiday goers leave Paris, the Riviera, France altogether, their absence reveals the destinations' shortcomings and absences, the dilapidation of our supply and lack of renewed supply. Upon preparing a needed recovery, questions need to be asked even if the answers may be uncomfortable and even downright unpleasant.

The terrorist attacks that hit the capital and the Riviera don't offer a full explanation. They created an urgent situation that needed to be treated rapidly at the highest possible level, but it is just a first step. Unlike previous attacks, France and its Belgian neighbor are not just the occasional targets of an insidious war whose fighters keep rising up. Tourism in the larger sense and hoteliers and restaurateurs in particular are the collateral victims of these violent acts. They need to be protected, assisted, supported just like other corporations affected by a global crisis.

France is sinking into veritable touristic doldrums. Its usual assets don't have the strength of appeal to convince reticent tourists who shy away. In addition to urgent measures that need to be taken, it is necessary to ask why the French Touch no longer has the right touch. The shock of the attacks reveals a situation that has been declining for a long time.

Behind the usual clichés: the baguette under the arm, boats in park fountains, the fragrance of warm croissants on a café terrace, the scent of grilled duck with honey... there was a real art de vivre and the authenticity of regional gastronomy. Today, street corners proffer fragrant steam from push carts hailing from other corners of the world map - another elegant cliché that disguises industrial preparations - products with no certain freshness and cheap exoticism. Bistrots have adopted sterile ranges with no real flavor. Tourist areas are invaded by rickshaws, jeepneys and other wobbly carts that ferry tourists around the world from Paris to Bombay, and Macao to New York.

It may be an exaggeration, but it is there nonetheless. Resting on its laurels without truly maintaining it or renewing it with a new supply places the city at risk of being revealed at the slightest crisis. And France is currently clearing the aftermath of a severe one. The lack of professionalism of hoteliers who saw the sector as a refuge for their revenues that could be exempted from taxes and a "pleasant" activity for idle housewives is blinding.

In all analyses of clientele, particularly new generations of travelers, the word experience stands out in all its shapes and sizes: soaking up local life, participating in innovative activities, being surprised by innovation, finding a new proximity with locals ... these demands rely first and foremost on social life, authenticity and awareness of the environs, on a new professionalism that blends savoir-faire and interpersonal skills. It is also the result of a quest for excellence, a French quality associated with the luxury universe, craftsmanship, high gastronomy. These are the engines struggling to pull the heavy tourism wagons that have come to a standstill.

In Europe, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin and London in particular present an image that is very positive among young people and big travelers. It is time for Paris and other French cities to wake up. The tide has gone out, but it will rise again. New waves are taking shape out at sea, but they can be turned away if the currents are not favorable. The time has come to carve out new furrows.

About Georges Panayotis

Georges Panayotis is President of MKG Consulting. Born in a family of hoteliers for three generations, Georges Panayotis, left Greece at the age of 18 to pursue his studies in Political Sciences and to obtain his Master in Management at the French University of Paris Dauphine. He then joined the Novotel chain, which will become the Accor Group, to manage the International Marketing Division. After developing specific marketing tools for the hotel industry, he left the group in 1986 to start his own company, MKG Conseil, now MKG Group. In twenty years, the group has become the European leader in studies and consulting for the Hospitality industry. The company employs over 70 people in four departments: marketing studies, database, quality control and trade press, with two publications HTR Magazine and Hotel Restaurant Weekly. The company helped the development of over 2,000 hotels in France and in Europe, with offices in Paris, Cyprus and London. Georges Panyotis is the founder of the Worldwide Hospitality Awards and the Hotel Makers Forum, and the author of several publications on Marketing and Operations in the hotel business, He is a regular consultant for several television channels, among which Bloomberg Television, and radio networks.

Contact: Georges Panayotis

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