How will the French territories cope with this summer's tourist numbers?

Close to the end of the partial lockdown in France and the beginning of the summer season, which will be under the sign of local tourism, the territories will have to adapt this year to a potential increase in tourist pressure.

 

The challenge of the territories, whose tourist pressure is usually strong, will be greater this year because of the health situation that will push holidaymakers to prefer local destinations. 

What are the means available to local authorities to preserve their most frequented areas? Here are some examples.

The use of digitals tools: the “Flux vision Tourisme” tool was created by Orange (a French telephone company) and used since 2013 by Bouches-du-Rhône department (South-East of France). This tool collects anonymous data on visitors, such as their origin, nationality, length of stay, and thus determines the places most visited. It is now used in more than 40 departments in France. 

The use of mobile applications: the team of Calanques Park in Marseille, which is implementing a “demarketing” policy, is going to extend its “My Calanques” application by notifying the park’s frequentation in real-time thanks to the eco-counters’ measurements; these data will then allow inciting visitors not to come to increase the population of such or such Calanque but to choose to visit one whose level of frequentation is low as this moment. 

In the Alps, the use of this kind of data has allowed actors to understand that 80% of their territory is not very popular and that tourists are concentrated on 20% of their territory. Thus, the Savoie Mont-Blanc agency is working with the GPS application Waze to create a tool that will allow tourists to find their way around the region. 

Land use planning is also one of the actions to control the tourism flows, such as temporary parking, the establishment of shuttles to keep cars away from sites, the closure of certain roads, and the presence of a sworn officer. 

“Demarketing” policy: Like the Calanque park in Marseille, other sites have launched a “demarketing” policy. This involves a change in communication by directing communication towards places to be promoted by stopping promoting on the flagship sites. 

Political actions: implementation of tourist tax. In France, it does not yet exist but could make its appearance in the coming years in areas where tourist pressure is very strong, such as in Venice (Italy) which will implement a tax in 2022 for tourists. Creation of quotas for certain sites through the use of digital tools and eco-counters.- Regulation of tourist flow in protected areas by the mayors or the prefects thanks to decrees. 

Photo credits: AIFM picture, "Côte Bleu", October 2020