By Georges Panayotis
While we've been relatively spared the hardship of winter's cold weather, 2019 has nevertheless sprung up. So what should we wish for? What do you want? Let's get to work and act, find the strength and the means to join forces, move forward and progress together. Let us not look back because what is done is done, but let us try not to repeat the same mistakes and let us try to make the most of the assets we have.
But who is looking after leisure tourists?
"We shall not forget that the international symbols of Paris are the Eiffel Tower and the Champs Elysées – not La Défense and the Porte de Versailles."
However, hoteliers have long lost interest in leisure tourists, who are considered less profitable. To their great regret, moreover, now that Airbnb has taken over the field by offering overnight stays at unbeatable prices in a range of products as diverse and varied as the profiles of the inhabitants of the cities where the platform is located. Unfortunately, they made the same mistake with the long stay segment by leaving it to tourist residences, which were able to create products adapted to these expectations.
Hoteliers have the expertise, they sometimes have the property, they can have ideas but they lack the impetus that would allow them to rotate, to change their product to better adapt it to a more diverse clientele. The hybrid is flourishing, lifestyle concepts are coming to Paris and developing even faster in other European capitals. A property can be transformed and adapted to the needs of the growing number of leisure guests. Communicating rooms, family services, tourist bus facilities, training of reception staff, promotion of family offers… many possibilities are available to all who wish to be more effective.
Cities such as Berlin, Barcelona and Lisbon adapted to leisure tourism and ended the year with a RevPAR that continues to close in on 100€ (for more details, see the infography about European agglomerations).
Create a leisure destination out of nothing, make it prosper, stimulate new demand, it is possible! Disneyland Paris, is a perfect example of this.
"We might recall the cries of Parisian hoteliers who feared the destination would cannibalize their clientele."
On the contrary, not only did occupancy rates at Parisian hotels not drop, but the opening of the theme park actually brought new demand.
This new destination has enabled and boosted the development of the new city of Marne La Vallée, creating a job pool, attracting hundreds of thousands of inhabitants to a formerly rural territory, allowing the extension of the RER A line and the arrival of the TGV in eastern Paris.
So why is the Europa City project, which would create this same pocket of economic activity in the Gonesse triangle, struggling so hard to see the light of day? A mystery… but let's remain confident, the year 2019 will perhaps see the arrival of good news with a well-crafted, coherent and promising project…
And the rest of France?
The situation gets complicated if you look at what is happening in the different regions (see the infography about performances in French agglomerations).
Some dynamic conurbations have changed their communications, attract new investors, do everything possible to progress and prosper, Bordeaux, Lyon and Nantes, to name but a few, develop their leisure offer in ever more innovative niches, whether in terms of image or product, and deploy the full power of the marketing tool to increase their visibility and appeal.
But the exception is not the rule and other tourist destinations are stagnating or even regressing due to a lack of investment in France. However, rural and gastronomic tourism is on the rise, initiatives exist, but these offers should be supported and coordinated so that destinations such as Champagne, Alsace, Burgundy… are even more visible on the international scene and gain in notoriety.
Let us not forget future generations…
Today, for 100 balles (francs), or 20 bucks, you can't stay in Paris, a bed inn a youth hostel dormitory costs more than 15 euros. Destinations such as Barcelona, Berlin and Amsterdam, to cite the ones that attract young tourists, offer a creative, innovative image, that is fed by arrivals of young clientele.
"It is unfortunate that that we ware unable to offer products adapted to the budget and expectations of young people."
They are the ones who will potentially come back to visit the capital later when they have stronger purchasing power or with their families. The situation is complicated, the available space and the price of land are major obstacles to the development of an attractive economy offer. But why limit yourself to the city outskirts? The 2024 Olympic Games will fortunately boost public investment in France, but good habits will have to be maintained.
"For 2019, we are thinking into the future in our business, supply creates demand so we must be bold, creative and proactive. We will only be all the more satisfied by what we have accomplished."