A few days before the school holidays, Nadine Darson-Beretta, director of the Tourist Development Agency (ADT), talks about the outlook for the sector in the department, after the recovery in 2021. A summer that professionals are approaching with confidence, with indicators and forecasts that inspire optimism.
What are the trends in the first six months of this year 2022, which show that tourism will continue its recovery, which began last year?
The general meeting of ADT, which we held on Wednesday, June 15, ended a year 2021, which had shown signs of recovery, although it had still been well crocheted, with incarcerations, questions about meters, passed vaccination, which in turn had required professionals to have a real adaptability. Last year, French customers were present, but foreign customers were shy: this is the remarkable change in 2022, with Spaniards, Germans and Dutch returning. This is also an element that will be taken into account in our 2022 actions, with a promotional campaign that, in addition to renewing the video campaign with Audois sharing their good plans, we will invest more in the Spanish market, after two years with absence, especially with a dedicated Facebook page in Spanish.
In terms of attendance, the indicators are green with a marked nuance: many people on the bridges, on holidays, but dive the rest of the time. So it’s still pretty irregular. But confidence is there, a very good season is expected: I recently took stock of the situation with the director of the Sudfrance.fr agency, the reservation center commissioned by Gîtes de France to market branded leases, and the gîtes are almost 100% until the end of August.
Aude: why tourism professionals can be optimistic for the summer
Are the issues of recruitment, for professionals, and purchasing power, for tourists, dreaded brakes?
This recruitment is the major drawback of 2022 at the moment, yes; 60% of the respondents in the company survey we conducted had very difficult recruitments. The phenomenon naturally concerns restaurants and hotels, but the tourist offices have also had difficulty finding seasonal workers.
On purchasing power, the expectation from professionals is that people, like last year, have fun when they finally decide to go on holiday again after a two-year break. We have not yet noticed any impact, but we are not currently in the context of a family clientele: we are fortunate, with visitors who may come from Montpellier, Toulouse or Montauban, to have residential areas not far away and for whom the impact of the increase in fuel prices are less serious.
The summers of the “Covid years” were marked by a refocusing of French tourists on natural spaces: was the phenomenon just a parenthesis, or will it continue?
The return to nature, the search for space, in places out of time, these are always expectations. Among our 2022 actions is a lot of work on GR 78, the road to Santiago de Compostela, with photo reports to promote it, harmonization of the panels. I recently met the person in charge of the campsite in Carcassonne, who told me that many women did stop by their place while traveling along the canal. These are niches to work with: and we have a lot of material in Aude.
There is another element to take into account, it is the development of the world of work, with the question of the four-day week emerging (Belgium has just introduced the choice for employees, Kingdom United has launched a test program in 60 companies over 6 months, ed. note): this would mean complete review of holiday times, with multiplication of three-day weekends, and therefore a development of leisure activities: cycling, walking, meetings with locals, a change of surroundings close to home. It is no coincidence that CRT Occitanie has just added an L to its name to become the Regional Tourism and Leisure Committee.
Aude: tourism, economic giant, wants to confirm its awakening with the summer of 2022
The 10 most visited sites in 2021
1. The Count’s Castle in Carcassonne: 316,404 visitors in 2021 (+ 19% / 2020; -49% / 2019).
2. Sigean African Reserve: 288,502 (+ 16% / 2020; -14.6% / 2019).
3. Narbonne Freedom Area: 173,181 (-21% / 2020; -58% / 2019).
4. Fontfroide Abbey: 93,062 (+ 41% / 2020; -26.2% / 2019).
5. Narbo Via: 68 637 (opening 19.05.2021).
6. Gruissan Spa Area: 63,863 (+ 54% / 2020; -45% / 2019).
7. Peyreperturse Castle: 59,103 (+ 3% / 2020; -39% / 2019).
8. Giant Chasm of Cabrespine: 56,517 (0% / 2020; -21.2% / 2019).
9. Château de Quéribus: 53,043 (+ 3% / 2020; -10.8% / 2019).
10. Narbonne Palace Museum: 41,553 (+ 64% / 2020; -24.2% / 2019).