Holiday bookings in France catching up post-pandemic
Tourism groups are reporting soaring bookings of domestic seaside, countryside and mountain holidays, especially for open-air destinations, and higher-end options
Countryside destinations are high on the list of most-wanted places in France, as well as the seaside and mountain towns (Gordes, Provence) Pic: Gerhard Roethlinger / Shutterstock
Bookings for French holidays are soaring among people in France, as deconfinement continues and the industry works to make up for lost time and earnings due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
France’s deconfinement timetable began on May 19 and is set to continue until June 30. Currently, restaurant terraces and public spaces such as museums are open, and the curfew has been extended to 21:00.
On June 9, indoor spaces will reopen with limits, and the curfew will be extended to 23:00; and from July, there will not be a curfew or limits on outdoor spaces. Some health protocols will remain in place for indoor spaces.
Bookings were already up over the Ascension and Pentecost weekends, despite restaurants not being open for the first, and bad weather over the second.
Professional tourism groups have continued to report a spike in domestic bookings, with the trends from 2020 appearing to remain. Seaside locations are unsurprisingly the most popular, but there has also been a rise in mountain and countryside destinations over city breaks.
Gîtes de France reported occupancy levels 10% higher than those in 2019, and reservations for July and August are also up (8% and 3% respectively).
Outdoor holiday group la Fédération nationale de l’hôtellerie de plein air has said that bookings have risen to the point where they are catching up for the low takings over the past six months, with 84% of reservations coming from people living in France, especially for higher-end options.
And president of hospitality network Relais & Châteaux, Philippe Gombert said that there were “clearly higher numbers of people from France”.
He said: “People who did not travel at all in our country [before the pandemic] are now discovering it.”
The network’s occupancy levels are at 50-70% for summer stays already, managing to make up for the lack of reservations from UK and US tourists, and beating the usual trend of last-minute bookings.
The group is also expecting more bookings from US tourists in the later part of the season, as the health situation continues to improve and travel restrictions are expected to be lifted.
International travel restrictions
Currently, people travelling from the UK must have an essential reason to enter France - which does not include tourism or travelling to a second home - and from tomorrow, must isolate for seven days.
It comes as tourism group Atout France and the government worked together to launch a new tourism marketing campaign, in a bid to encourage people to holiday in France, even though foreign visitor numbers are likely to be low due to continuing Covid travel restrictions.
France is set to begin using its traffic light visiting scheme from next week, with countries classified by green, amber or red - with different restrictions and requirements for each.
The country has also made PCR tests free for residents and visitors, which is likely to entice travellers; in other countries, the mandatory tests cost between €70-€120.
Travel in Europe is also expected to be simplified from July 1, after the introduction of the EU health pass.