May holidays ‘will cost France €4bn’

But tourism industry expects a bumper month as three jours fériés fall on a Thursday this year

30 April 2014

THE COST to the French economy of May’s three public holidays this year is estimated at €4bn.

All three holidays - May Day, May 8 and Ascension, on May 29 - fall on a Thursday this year, and many employees will add “bridge” days to create up to three four-day weekends.

Last year, the three May holidays wiped €2bn off France’s GDP.

Based on that figure, and calculations from the French economic observatory OFCE, Europe 1 has suggested that twice that amount will be lost in 2014.

Meanwhile, the Yahoo! Finance website said that the true cost of the lost work time is difficult to calculate, but estimated that output in May could fall as much as 10% in certain sectors compared to other months. Across the board, the website estimated a fall in output of between 2% and 3% this month.

Employers and entrepreneurs have expressed frustration at the loss of work caused by the bank holidays.

OFCE economist Eric Heyer, however, has argued that the low level of French growth negates the impact of the number of holidays and bridge days this May.

He said the issue today is not one of a loss of output. Businesses, he said, face a problem of demand rather than supply.

It’s not all bad news. The hotel and tourism industry in France and further afield is expecting a bumper month, as workers make the most of their extra time off.

Guillaume Bril, commercial director of travel website told Le Figaro that four times as many users consulted the website for flight departures this year than they did in 2013, when holidays fell on a Wednesday.

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