“We must save tourism in France”, says the Prime Minister

However, with social distancing and limited overseas travel, there will be a sharp drop in trade. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said they were facing “probably the worst test of modern times, while at the same time tourism is a jewel in the crown of the French economy”. Saving the industry is a national priority, he said.

Tourism professionals said Report that many expect a reduction of at least 50% in annual sales. Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne has indicated that French residents will mainly spend their holidays in France, although President Macron has hinted at a possible European-wide trip. At a press conference with Angela Merkel, the president said a coordinated plan should be ready by mid-June: “We will have a tourist season in Europe alongside the virus”.

Extension of the Solidarity Fund

The EU is reportedly looking at robots and drones equipped with infrared cameras to patrol seaside resorts to verify social distancing. Tourism represents 9% of French GDP and maintains two million jobs. The government has announced an 18 billion euro plan to support the industry. This includes Solidarity Fund payments of up to € 1,500 per month for small businesses that have closed or lost 50% of their turnover compared to last year. These are extended until the end of the year, up to a limit of € 10,000 per company.

About € 1 billion is available for loans, and employers are exempt from payroll taxes from March to June, if the business is closed or with minimal activity. Boards are encouraged to lower the tourist tax (added to accommodation bills) and cut property taxes for tourism businesses by two-thirds, which the state will finance at 50%.

Unemployed employees will be able to claim temporary unemployment benefit of 84% of net salary until at least September, and possibly beyond if their workplace is still not fully open. There is a promise to increase daily use of meal vouchers from € 19 to € 38 plus weekend use, to help the industry. For more information, see plan-tourisme.fr.

A review of what businesses are included in the tourism sector banner is underway to extend it to tourist dependent ancillary sectors. Another new measure will be a support fund for heritage workers such as tourist guides. The French tourist organization Atout France is working on a “health reinsurance logo” linked to compliance with the Covid-19 directives. Asked by Connexion whether the quarantine for UK arrivals will hurt tourism, Mr Lemoyne said: ‘Reciprocity guides metrics and I can’t say more. But let me add that France is talking about a voluntary quarantine.

Read more: the importance of tourism in France this summer

New hygiene measures

When – as hoped – the restaurants reopen in June, they will have to keep a gap of 1 m between the tables. The Gîtes de France were delighted to be able to welcome visitors again when deconfinement began on May 11 and bookings were multiplied by eight – but the figures are still considerably down compared to last year. The 42,000 homeowners were educated on issues such as cleaning door handles, bedding wash temperatures and recommended times between guests.

The mountain huts will gradually begin to open from June 2. Campsites expect to be popular because they are outdoors. Despite hopes for a decent peak season, they expect annual revenues to be cut in half due to late opening, fewer restaurants and increased costs due to health regulations. Gé Kusters, vice-president of the National Outdoor Hospitality Federation, said: “We had very few cancellations for July and August. The tourism plan allowed the campsites to survive but we have to pay back the money we borrowed to continue. It will take two to three years to recover.

Roland Héguy, president of the Umih hotels and restaurants union, said the situation “is very serious”. He welcomed the measures, but said many companies will struggle to repay their loans. He wants insurers to reimburse under the business interruption clause, even if epidemics are generally not covered.

André Barbé, responsible for the first tourist site in Nouvelle-Aquitaine Lascaux IV, confirms: “The government has done more than in other countries. Our complaint concerns insurance companies. We’re prepared to pay higher premiums if we get help now, but they won’t listen to us. He hopes to open by the end of June, with visits from small, masked groups, and expects 50% losses for 2020. “You have to accept and adapt, just like Cro-Magnon did. “

Bouahlem Rekkas, head of tourism for Sarlat, Dordogne, said he hopes quiet country destinations such as Perigord attract visitors, but many small businesses are suffering. These are gites and
guest rooms, some of which are not incorporated as a business and can benefit from the Solidarity Fund. “It will be difficult for many to decide whether it is financially worth opening if they have to set up complicated health protocols, bring in staff and only accommodate a few visitors, which may not balance the books. We all worked very long hours. Everyone who opens has worked hard to make sure they can welcome guests safely.

Read more: 14-day voluntary quarantine for travelers from UK to France

The solidarity money was paid to us in a few days

Michael and Chantal Shardan, in the photo, run a bed and breakfast in Valréas, in the Vaucluse, and have applied for a grant from the Solidarity Fund for March and April. They say they will not hesitate to apply for May and June as well, if need be. Mr Shardan said: “It was simple and we had the money in our bank within three days of the request. I would recommend anyone to apply. This virus is not anyone’s fault. There is no point in complaining and we are grateful that France is doing something to help.

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