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Marseille, a land of conclave for French tourism professionals




French tourism officials met in conclave in Marseille for a weekend (photo: F.Dubessy)
French tourism officials met in conclave in Marseille for a weekend (photo: F.Dubessy)
FRANCE. They all had to see each other, as they do every year, at DITEX. Their exhibition was scheduled for March 2020 at the Palais du Pharo in Marseille and had first had to be postponed in July because of measures to combat Covid-19, then finally postponed until March 2021. Without waiting for this date, which is still hypothetical, the professionals of tourism met at the call of our fellow-member TourMag.com from 23rd to 25th October 2020 in Marseille.

"Le Voyage des Patrons has been taking place once a year, generally abroad, for sixteen years", explains Jean Da Luz, director of this reference site for tourism professionals. "It is the meeting between the main players in the tourism industry: travel agents, bosses of travel agent networks, tour operators, coach operators, and rental companies. This representation of the profession meets every year and discusses the problems of each other. Talking to each other is already better than staying isolated in your own corner", he continues.

Except that this year there is no question of organising a long and beautiful trip. It was necessary to play local and the "Voyage des Patrons" became the "Conclave des Patrons du Tourisme" in partnership with the Marseille Tourist and Convention Bureau and Avis. The twenty-four participants were thus able to visit various emblematic places of the Phoenician city during the day and then, every evening, cooped up in their big Marseille hotel, curfew obliging, they exchanged during long meals. On the menu of their talks were questions as essential as existential about the current situation, the prospects and risks for their companies, the hypotheses for the evolution and the end of the crisis. For greater serenity and to facilitate the discussion, the meetings were held behind closed doors.

 

"A lack of visibility and legibility"

Jean Da Luz, boss of TourMag.com, fears a blank year for tourism professionals (photo: F.Dubessy)
Jean Da Luz, boss of TourMag.com, fears a blank year for tourism professionals (photo: F.Dubessy)
However, econostrum.info met several of the main protagonists of this event on the evening of their arrival. And first of all, its organiser Jean Da Luz. "Today, we have a lack of visibility and legibility on the future of the profession, which could well experience a blank year in terms of business", notes the TourMag.com boss. "Despite the State aid, we'll have to go to the cash register with a revival of the turnover which will be very progressive, whereas the loans will have to be repaid and the charges will come. In addition, "in twelve months time, when travel agencies will have to reimburse their assets to customers they couldn't take to replace their trips cancelled during the last eighteen months, they are causing suffering. Agencies live off these down payments, because the travel agent profession is one that traditionally does not have a lot of equity".

Maxime Tissot is sorry "to receive only an average of eighty people a day instead of the usual 1,200" at the Marseille Tourist and Convention Bureau which he manages. He even had to cancel the communication campaign planned in partnership with the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Regional Council for the All Saints' Day holidays. "We really have a feeling of closure with the succession of national and international advertisements," he stresses. "Congresses and conventions, like cruises, are at a standstill. We're facing a disparity in competition and that worries us. Trade fairs that traditionally took place in Marseille and other major French cities, particularly in B to B, are perhaps going to change countries. All the States help the tourist sector, because this sector creates employment for people of all social stature and proves to be a formidable social lift. A cleaning lady can end up as a housekeeper."

The director of the Marseille Tourist Office explains that "before the organisers were afraid that their clients or employees would catch the Covid-19. Today, their fear goes further: they know that their event has a 95% chance of being cancelled".

 

Antigenic tests should give travellers confidence

Maxime Tissot, director of the Marseillle Tourist and Convention Bureau says he is ready for a revival of tourism (photo: F.Dubessy)
Maxime Tissot, director of the Marseillle Tourist and Convention Bureau says he is ready for a revival of tourism (photo: F.Dubessy)
According to Jean Da Luz, "we are at the dawn of a total upheaval in the world of the travel industry".

The professionals of tourism remain very far from giving up, however. On the contrary, as Adriana Minchella (Ellipse Voyage à Beziers), president of CEDIV (Circle of Independent Travel Agents), which brings together 260 independent travel agents, affirms. "I am a very optimistic person. We are trying to hold on with our means in a rather uncomfortable situation. We have just held out for seven months, but now there is more and more the problem of closed borders. The few clients we have who want to leave, can't do it", she stresses, while specifying that she is "more specialised on France, so we are doing better".

Valéry Muggeo (manager of Ama Tourisme in Grenoble) was hoping for an upturn in September 2020. The president of the Selectour cooperative, the first French network of travel agencies, sees in the arrival of the antigenic tests "a way to give back confidence to our customers to program their holidays at the end of the year". The Marseille Provence airport was the first French platform, from Thursday 22nd October 2020, to offer them to travellers. The others should follow suit by the end of the month. "Many French people want to continue to leave and are faced with the problem of obtaining PCR test results within 72 hours. The antigenic tests allow them to have them within half an hour. This would already unblock a certain number of situations", confirms Jean Da Luz.

"Let's give ourselves hope of getting back on track. That's what will make the difference," says Maxime Tisssot. The secret is to "keep the link with the professionals. They need to know what we have to offer," insists Tisssot, who reveals that "we have a communication campaign in the boxes, ready to draw as soon as everything starts up again. We're already ready to write to all the federations to propose that they hold their congress in our country".
The professionals share his opinion. Valéry Muggeo tells his "travel agents not to leave their clients, to keep calling them. Adriana Minchella "is working on the preparation of the takeover. We are not giving up. Our army has been fighting on all fronts for seven months. The car is still being maintained, we are trying to make it look good. We also maintain the morale of the troops so that they are ready to drive it when everything starts again."


Frédéric Dubessy


Monday, October 26th 2020



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