It’s Pentecost weekend, a three-day weekend for those who are lucky enough to be able to take their Monday. After the Ascension weekend, marked by a strong comeback of tourism after two years of pandemic, we have seen record levels of attendance in particularly touristy places, and it is even time now to think about reservations. summer for those who plan to go on vacation next summer.
Tourist records in France are likely to be exceeded again this summer for a tourism that is different. And this is also the subject of the latest book by our sociologist Jean Viard, The year zero of tourism.
franceinfo: Nothing is the same today Jean Viard, in terms of tourism. Nothing is the same as before?
John Viard: What is true is that there, we all have a need to go out. People prefer to go to the forest as much as to the cinema, because we were locked up at home. There are also a lot of French people who are abroad and we want to take advantage of our restored freedom. This is the substance of the debate. Me, I don’t like the word ‘mass tourism’ because it’s a bit like the idea that as long as there wasn’t a mass with the elites who were doing tourism, we were better off among ourselves. Perhaps the expression has always bothered me a lot.
The truth is that tourism has become the world’s second skin. That is to say that, before the pandemic, there were 1 billion 500 million people who went on tourism abroad, whereas in 1968, there were only 60 million. It is a phenomenon of a planetary explosion which actually concerns rather the middle layers of the planet, that’s for sure, but which is at the same time an extraordinary moment of encounters, discoveries, travels, love, culture .
Look, in France, there are 7 million people who go to all the little festivals that we have everywhere, etc. So that is essential. What is true is that precisely because it has become a very important phenomenon, there are places where there are too many of us at the same time, such as the problem of ‘over-tourism’ in Venice, let’s not talk of Barcelona, and also in a certain way, in Paris. Look at Airbnbs, I love Airbnbs, but not when there are 10 in the same building!
Basically, the question is what? We realized that this phenomenon is developing, and has only been expanding for a century and a half – there will be 3 billion tourists, certainly in 30 years. But how do we ensure that people don’t pollute too much, don’t all go to the same place at the same time, how do we think about the regulation of tourism. This is what we worked on from a major symposium in Nantes. We looked for the time to take the best ideas and that’s the real question. How do we broadcast? Let’s take an example, I want to go visit the Louvre. Maybe I will have a place in 2024, at 10:30 p.m., for 4 hours. Is it very serious given the number of times in my life I will go to the Louvre?
But it could be the creeks of Marseille, and you sign up… Little by little, we’re going to think about that, and then we’re going to think about space. How do we ensure that these people don’t have the same plans, don’t go to the same place at the same time? How do we consider that we cannot move billions of people without a public policy?
An organization is what comes out of the pandemic. This is the theme of our book, The year zero of tourism, co-written with David Médioni, of the Jean-Jaurès Foundation. Tourism developed without a project, for 150 years, it is a major movement of societies, but now, let’s take advantage of the fact that everything has been stopped, 80% stoppage, it’s unimaginable in an economic sector! Let’s try to put some order in it.
And precisely, everything is restarting at the moment. Is it possible to be able to calmly reflect on a new model for all tourism players, when they are very busy making up for two lost years?
It is a question of public policy, of international policy. Most people’s vacations are always in the same place, mostly with the family. Most people go to see their parents, their friends, their brothers, their sisters. There are 4 million second homes and about half of the French have always bathed on the same beach. So, we’re not going anywhere, just anyhow. We trace the thread of his genealogy. Often, if you were born in Brittany, if you had Breton grandparents in Brittany, you go to Brittany. In fact, it’s a trip that has a lot of construction and meaning. And that’s what we obviously have to encourage by thinking that only 60% of French people go on vacation, we could make 80% of people leave, which is the rate for Scandinavian countries.
So we have to put that back in place. Why ? Because we also have to get the most disadvantaged young people out. When you have a neighborhood where there’s nothing to do, where you don’t leave, you want to go to the sea, you want to be in love, you want like everyone else! It must be said that society is built on this movement. But in fact, more than regulation is needed.
It’s not scandalous to say we’re going to stay a little longer but fewer. It’s nothing outrageous to say: a ski resort can be entirely by electric bike or electric car. So if you come by car, you will leave your car outside the station, or you come by train, it would be much better. We do not take the plane to go to Bordeaux. The great pollution of tourism is travel.