After two years marked by the impact of the health crisis, the launch of the pre-season, which corresponds to the Easter holidays, is particularly encouraging for professionals, with higher attendance than 2019 which bodes well for an “excellent” season.
Like a scent of renewal. The arrival of spring and the rise in temperatures also seem to have to rhyme with the return in numbers of visitors. After two years marked by the impact of the health crisis, the pre-season is actually starting “very strong”, according to the director of the Intercommunal Tourist Office (ILO) of the country of Ajaccio. “The Easter holidays have usually kicked off the season for several years, thus exposes Nathalie Cau. With the Covid crisis, we had experienced a drastic drop in our visitor numbers at the office, with nearly 80% less between 2019 and 2020, and -50% in 2021. Over the first fifteen days of April, we are seeing that attendance is higher than in 2019, which is a benchmark year for tourism. We thus welcome around 700 visitors per day, whereas they were between 400 and 700 in 2019.”
“Family and French” clientele
Not really something to surprise professionals, who observed “promising indicators” for several months now. “We have a certain number of barometers, among which the requests for preparation of stay, continues Nathalie Cau. As of this winter, we have had a lot of contact with customers, by email or telephone, in order to prepare for the spring and even summer holidays. According to carrier data, travel intentions were also up significantly.”
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A notable tourist recovery, also marked by the predominance of a clientele “family and French”, who stays on average seven days on site, the health crisis having reduced travel abroad. Even if we also note the return of cruise passengers “German, English or even Swiss”. In proportion, while the French previously represented 70% of the clientele, they now constitute between 90 and 95%, due to the consequences of the Covid.
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In addition to these contextual considerations, the director of the ILO also argues that tourists have developed a real “appetite” for the destination, favored by the efforts made by the professionals of the sector to reinforce the attractiveness of the Ajaccien country. “For several years, in conjunction with our partners, we have developed a strategy to actively capture customers, and not just be a gateway, emphasizes Nathalie Cau. We have prioritized this supply policy, positioning the territory on the promotion of its many assets, around the notions of authenticity and specificity.”
While tourists generally seek “dynamic, rich, experiential stays”the ILO notes in this regard a “significant demand” for its programs of activities, declined in particular through the promotional operations “To each his own season”. From the sea to the mountains, passing through the villages, the discovery of heritage, crafts, the art of living, culture and leisure (such as boating or hiking) meets in this sense a “real success”according to the director of the ILO of the country of Ajaccio.
“The objective is to present a seasonal and segmented offer, she specifies. To this end, for the past two years we have been emphasizing digital communication, with an increasingly large community, because in a competitive world, dialogue must be permanent with customers. Spring offers everything possible in this regard, and tourist flows can be observed from March onwards, every weekend. But we also try to make the territory attractive all year round, by focusing in particular on events. A boulevard is offered to us to capitalize on responsible and ambitious tourism”, assures the specialist. According to which the 2022 season is announced “excellent”. A perspective that all professionals are obviously calling for. Like Marina Fondacci, president of the association of downtown merchants. Although cautious about the evolution of the situation, the trader, manager of clothing stores in Ajaccio and on the south shore, wants to be optimistic indeed. “The month of March was difficult, but with the Easter holidays, we see a dynamic in attendance and the presence of many tourists in the streets, she says. Last year at this time, there were already a lot of people, because people needed to get out and move around again, after the confinements. Currently, we have good weather and holidays which are positive data”, she adds. While noting, moreover, that “the elections”but also “the purchasing power”nevertheless represent factors of uncertainty for the tourism economy.