Jean Damien Lesay for Localtis
“The question of tourism is first of all the question of the state.” By opening the debates of a meeting organized this May 24 by Regions of France and entitled “Regions and companies at the service of tourism: from common ambition to the implementation of a strategy of excellence”, Hervé Morin knew he was “probably not in tune” with what was expected. However, the president of the Normandy regional council insisted, asking a few questions to explain his position: “How long does it take to go through customs, get out of the airport in France? I had the chance to travel, c It is in our country that we have the most degraded service, with waiting times of 30 or 45 minutes just to be able to present your passport. Secondly, if you want to welcome tourists in large numbers, they have to feel Does France give the image of a country where you can walk around at any time of the day or night in complete safety? We all have in mind images of Chinese buses looted in Paris The third strategic subject is that of compulsory levies, the level of which places us at the top in Europe and in the OECD. For tourism investment, this is a real question.”
The region, “major level”
After this strong introduction, Dominique Marcel, Chairman of the Alliance France Tourisme and of the Board of Directors of the Compagnie des Alpes, added nuance: “I subscribe to everything Hervé Morin has said about the role of the State about the legal environment, safety, cleanliness. But we will do nothing if everyone does not sit around the table to define and deploy a long-term tourism strategy.” Dominique Marcel then explained why he considered the region to be the “major level” of tourism policy: “You have the critical size, the capacity to intervene and you are close to the territories. You are in the best position to create synergies between all the sites, the natural heritage, gastronomy, etc. You are the first partners of the local authorities and you have three fundamental skills: training, economic development and transport.And you need a tourism dimension that is well integrated into the transport policy because the network of the territory is what makes it possible to develop new sites, to better distribute the flow of visitors.”
The synergy of the region’s skills to articulate a tourism policy was also highlighted by Franck Louvrier, president of the tourism commission of the Regions of France and vice-president of the Pays de la Loire region. He recalled that “it is the role of the regions to provide direct aid, through economic development, training.” But the role of the state quickly resurfaced. “The President of the Republic is the ambassador of the country, resumed Franck Louvrier. And at the first Destination France summit (read our article of November 5, 2021), we understood that the roadmap came from the State.
The Notr law in the (rear) viewfinder
State or regions? The answer is obviously in cooperation. Olivier Sichel, Deputy CEO of Caisse des Dépôts and Director of Banque des Territoires, recalled that during the Covid crisis, his institution “had ensured that the machine did not stop”. And it is under the impetus of the State that a major tourism plan has been set up in which the Caisse des Dépôts group has committed to the tune of 3 billion (1.5 billion for BPI and 1.5 billion for the Bank of Territories). Above all, added Olivier Sichel, “this phase was incredibly innovative” including through partnership work carried out with the regions. “With Franck Louvrier, we set up a ‘lease-back’ real estate [cession-bail, ndlr] tourism in Pays de la Loire to allow hoteliers to renovate their hotel when it was empty”, he illustrated.
If state-region cooperation in tourism is a top priority, what about other communities? The debate of the day allowed itself to look back on the law of August 7, 2015 on the new territorial organization of the Republic (Notr). A text which had notably given new powers to intermunicipal authorities in the field of tourism. For Franck Louvrier, “the Notr law has not been settled, it has given tourism competence to almost everyone. This does not give visibility and no efficiency. We will have to clarify and distribute everyone’s competences. But we must not wait for the State, we must do it ourselves, the dynamic comes from the field, not from above”. On this subject, it is Hervé Morin’s turn to play moderators: “I am often annoyed by the cross-skills, but the tourism sector is not a sector in which it seems complicated to me. We cannot imagine that the municipal block is not in charge of promoting local tourism, and for investments, we very quickly find ourselves on the logic of economic development in which the region is by far the first actor. the department and if the department is not there, we do without it. Where it bothers me the most is on attractiveness strategies. When you created a regional attractiveness agency, the departments say to each other that they have to do the same, and sometimes we step on each other’s toes.”
For a social acceptance of tourism
The debate therefore made it possible to identify a common vision on the need to unite energies and give everyone their place, including the private sector and in particular social tourism “which has suffered a lot”, underlined Olivier Sichel. Two black points, however, remained unanswered.
On the one hand, the question of recruitment, while the hotel and catering sector lost more than 200,000 jobs during the health crisis, according to Franck Louvrier. For Hervé Morin, “when we are at 4.5% unemployment, we find ourselves with applicants who are very far from employment and the path to get them there is extremely complicated”. And the president of the Normandy region to quote “restaurant friends in Deauville who pay their employees well and who despite this cannot find a workforce because it is an area in which there are on-calls, where the We work weekends.” The solution ? “Create appetite for these trades through training and guidance.”
On the other hand, the environmental question, illustrated by two different visions. That of Hervé Morin, who opposes the critics of “mass tourism” and protests against the next rule of “zero net artificialization (ZAN) which is going to be a nightmare”. “To succeed in setting up equipment that is very attentive to the environment, such as cabins in the woods, the rules are extremely hard to lift. The State should allow the development of this type of activity, which promises a gigantic future”, he pleaded. Facing him, Franck Louvrier balanced “quantitative” and “qualitative” by also ensuring that he was “concerned about the environmental issue”: “A few years ago, we were at 90 million foreign visitors in France and we asked whether to pass the 100 million mark. I am not sure that we should continue on this line. On this theme, Olivier Sichel put forward the idea of ”DDP” tourism – for “sustainable, digital and participatory” – because, he felt, “tourism needs social acceptance, and it This is where we need political support”. A way of returning to the need, mentioned upstream, for collective work between the State, local authorities and the private sector.