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By Georges Panayotis

More than 400 years ago Molière said: it is not always enough to be on the right side; sometimes a little extra help is needed, a little nudge that makes it possible to go further and succeed. The tourism industry reports an impressive bill of health with 20 years of steady growth that can be expected to continue for years to come. Just over 60 years ago, 50 million travelers journeyed the world around. Today, there are more than 1.3 billion.

The tourism sector represents 5% annual growth on average, 1 in 10 jobs worldwide and 8 to 15% of the GDP of developed countries. In France in 2016, the sector accounted for 49 billion euros in revenues and 2 million direct and indirect jobs. An iron constitution, steady growth, a development of the offer which is far from compensating for the growth in demand, trades covering all the chains of skills: from the technician to welcome staff, middle management and even the company's boss.... What could be better? So why does this sector, which is such a driving force for the global economy and so in tune with the changes in our society, receive so little consideration from our governments?

What have our governments done to support our industry and increase its development potential? Why was it slow to protect companies from raids by pension funds? Why didn't we protect hoteliers from the internet giants? How are we helping territories maintain quality and renew the supply? How is investment promoted? How are entrepreneurs in the sector encouraged? How do we make tourism sectors attractive to young graduates? How do we restore pride in the profession? How can we promote jobs in hospitality? How do we support VSE entrepreneurs to facilitate management of businesses with a strong need for manpower? How are regulations streamlined to support the sector and maintain its competitiveness?

The results are poor, because for decades we have passed from do-nothing committees to meetings among ourselves, forgetting to address tourism entrepreneurs. We define great strategies, we launch great studies, we extract fabulous figures from them - when they are not erroneous - but to what end? If each individual tries to make more noise than the person next to them, to announce good numbers first and pretend to be an expert in the tourism sector, the machine is exhausted because resources are scattered, actions are not coordinated and the sector is divided. Turf squabbles and other selfish battles are murderous.

The United States, China and the Middle East are investing and developing their offer very actively, while in France the hotel supply is stagnating in volume and ageing badly. If we are able to attract foreign investors, why can't we encourage French investors to participate in the development of their economy? Are we on the move to listen to the profession? Are we proud and do we value successful companies? Do we agree to give them back their role so they can innovate, create jobs and develop a new supply? This is the way to remain competitive on the international stage; if everyone stays on their own turf and if objectives are not shared and clearly defined, France will continue to lose its splendor as a destination. Although tourist numbers in France are still high, it is also true that French destinations are losing market shares compared to their international competitors, and yet destinations continue to brag while resting on their laurels. The danger is that companies in the sector are becoming less and less profitable, and they are unable to make the CapEx investments necessary to renovate their products, let alone re-launch a supply in the quantity and quality needed to restore the industry to its rightful position on the international scene.

About Georges Panayotis

Georges Panayotis is the President & Founder of MKG Group & Hospitality ON.

Born into a family of hoteliers, Georges Panayotis left Greece at the age of 18 to study Political Science and earn a management degree at the University of Paris, Dauphine.

In 1986 he created his own company and started developing specialised marketing tools for the hotel industry.

Over the past 30 years, MKG Conseil, later to become MKG Group, became the leading European consulting firm for the hotel business, food service and tourism industries. He is also a consultant for several radio and television stations that focus on the economy.

Contact: Georges Panayotis

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