In Corsica, the vacationer season threatened by transport costs | EUROtoday

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

” Lhe tourist season? The least we can say is that the beginning is very sluggish. » Benoît Chaudron does not hide his concern. At a time when most tourist establishments are opening their doors, this director of three hotels in the town of Ajaccio (South Corsica) notes, not without fear, a “delay in lighting”.

The Easter holidays and the May holidays which traditionally kick off the pre-season on the island were desperately calm. “For the moment, we have reached 60% maximum occupancy,” observes this hotelier, vice-president of the Union of Hotel Trades and Industries (Umih) of Corsica. We don't feel any quivering. »

Tourism professionals have reason to be worried. Indeed, on the island, this sector weighs very heavily: 39% of gross domestic product (GDP), according to the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (Insee), compared to 7% for the national average. A lever of 3.5 billion euros which makes Corsica the region of France most dependent on this activity.

The 2023 season had already been complicated, marked by a clear decline in tourism. A feeling that an INSEE study confirmed last December: summer attendance actually recorded a drop of 8.1% compared to 2022. In other words, a loss of… 824,000 nights in hotels, campsites and other collective tourist accommodation.

“Coming to Corsica is simply unaffordable”

With 102,200 fewer passengers than in 2022, passenger traffic was also down 1.5%. Summer 2024 promises to be just as difficult, according to the professionals. At issue: the development of “furnished tourist accommodation” via platforms such as Airbnb, in strong growth, and also the directives of the Corsican Tourism Agency which has decided to no longer promote the destination during the high season to limit the overcrowding of the island, for the benefit of “seasonalization”.

But, for those involved in the sector, the origin of the problem is mainly to be found in the consequences of this restrictive policy: the price of transport. With price variations which, depending on the period and the anticipation of the reservation, would undermine the island destination. Example: almost 300 euros for a Paris-Bastia return plane ticket in June, 250 euros for Marseille-Ajaccio or almost 500 euros for a Lille-Ajaccio in August. On the maritime side, the crossing without vehicle or cabin costs around 100 euros per person.

In a context of tension around purchasing power, tourists' choices, professionals believe, may have weighed on the choice of destination, beyond the type of accommodation and the length of stay. “For many households, coming to Corsica is simply unaffordable,” laments Gérard Tapias, manager, since 1986, of a campsite in the seaside resort of Calvi (Haute-Corse).

President of the Corsican Outdoor Hotel Federation, which brings together 70 establishments on the island, he notes – bitterly – an “obstacle to tourist activity”. “The cost of transportation is more important for a family than the cost of accommodation and activities on site,” he observes. We are not competitive with other destinations in the Mediterranean. »

Towards promotional offers?

If the price of transport is high, it is also because the supply is less. Thus, during the summer of 2023, the number of seats offered in the air experienced a decline of 15%, according to the Corsican Tourism Agency, due to a reduction in the offer offered by low-cost airlines. cost, of around 33%, transferred to other competing destinations such as Greece and the Balearic Islands. “There is a very clear supply deficit, which mechanically raises prices,” believes Benoît Chaudron.

Transport companies are not the only ones to blame. According to this hotelier, the increase in the number of second homes also has a lot to do with it. On the island, nearly 29% of accommodations are vacation homes, according to INSEE. A figure three times higher than the national average and which is not without impact on transport. “We are building more and more second homes, which has the effect of increasing demand for transport,” points out the Corsican vice-president of Umih. These are travelers who monopolize seats on planes, to the detriment of tourists who participate more in commercial activity. »

An more and more flammable topic on the island, as conventional motels lose floor within the face of residentialization and on-line lodging platforms. An indication that the state of affairs is worrying on the daybreak of the season, a disaster assembly should happen on May 22 on the initiative of the Umih and the Chamber of Commerce on the thorny subject of transport. With a transparent goal: “to define a strategy to break the deadlock”, but in addition to problem the general public authorities, particularly the nationalist territorial majority which is struggling to outline clear instructions for a tourism coverage.

Under strain from professionals and figures already at half mast, the island's leaders introduced, on May 18, a partnership between the Tourism Agency, the Regional Federation of Tourist Offices and the Air Corsica firm. The end result: a “price effort” of as much as 30% of the ticket worth. On an experimental foundation, seven vacationer workplaces will profit from promotional charges on flights operated by the Corsican plane producer below situation: the ticket have to be a part of a “global tourist offer” primarily based on eligible lodging – lodge, campsite or institution labeled – in order to not encourage paracommercialism. An emergency measure supposed to “convince more and more visitors to come to Corsica”, within the phrases of Marie-Hélène Casanova-Servas, the impartial president of the supervisory board of Air Corsica. Going towards the logic of “seasonalization” displayed by the nationalist govt.