Earlier in May, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe brought together major players in the country’s tourism industry for an inter-ministerial meeting alongside Christian Mantei, President of the Administration Council and Caroline Leboucher, Director-General of Atout France.
The Tourism Plan that he announced outlines the numerous concrete measures for providing support to this sector, which has been severely affected by the COVID-19 epidemic.
During the fifth Inter-ministerial Tourism Committee meeting, the Prime Minister stressed that “tourism was probably facing the toughest test in its modern history even though it is one of the jewels of the French economy.”
A one-off support plan, devised in partnership with major players from different industries, has been presented. It focuses on three areas:
- Health measures, information and reassurance for travellers.
- Support for tourism-related businesses and both sporting and cultural events, in order to ‘move from emergency to recovery.’ A total of €18 billion will be spent on this.
- Preparing a contract for tourism recovery and transformation.
Atout France has been enlisted to perform the following tasks as part of this Tourism Plan:
- With regard to necessary health measures providing reassurance and allowing tourism activities to resume, the Agency will work on bringing together dynamic industry players under one distinctive logo which will encourage everyone to identify and pass on health protocols across all tourism activities. It will also be involved with the national campaign promoting these protocols, which is being rolled out by the Government’s Information Service.
- Starting in June 2020, a communications campaign will be run by Atout France, in partnership with relevant public-sector and local tourism professionals, to assist with the recovery of the tourism sector and encourage people to travel in France.
- Financial support for engineering in local areas across France will be significantly increased by the Banque des Territoires and, in particular, capacity building for those involved in Atout France’s ‘France Tourisme Ingénierie’ initiative.
- Atout France will be fully committed, alongside the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Ministry for the Economy and Finance, Welcome City lab, Banque des Territoires and Bpifrance, to supporting digital innovation and transformation in the tourism sector. Atout France and Welcome City lab will send a call for projects to businesses and start-ups that are willing to suggest innovative solutions to help build the tourism of tomorrow. An online platform for sharing data on France’s tourism offering will be set up as part of the project to foreshadow the digital component of the tourism recovery plan, put together by the Banque des Territoires with contributions from Atout France.
- Lastly, Atout France will play an active role developing roadmaps for different sectors and territories on the tourism sector committee in preparation for the tourism recovery and transformation contract, due in autumn 2020, with a first round of feedback in July 2020. Atout France will propose a comprehensive formalization process with local authorities that are experienced in tourism, as well as the Regions (several of which are already involved).
Reopening the sector:
The Prime Minister also made several announcements on ‘reopening’ the sector:
- The reopening date for cafes and restaurants will be decided in the week commencing 25 May. In ‘green’ départements, it may be possible to reopen on June 2 if the current state of the epidemic doesn’t worsen.
- French people will be able to go on holiday in France in July and August (overseas territories included).
- The hotel and tourism industries have committed to promising a full refund to anyone who has cancelled a reservation or had a reservation cancelled for Covid-19-related reasons;
- Finally, the government is putting in place a plan more specifically related to social tourism, which will allow everyone to go on holidays and business trips. It will be presented in the coming weeks.
The next meeting to set the dates for reopening is scheduled for the end of May.