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Tourism in July in 64: the Covid effect is no longer felt, inflation if

The month of July, in any case, fell within pre-health crisis standards. But in high standards, can we be reassured, “if we go back to 2019, the total number of overnight stays is 10% higher” announces the AaDT, the Agency for Tourist Attractiveness and Development.

At the level of the department, the volume of visitors is down slightly. The specialists announced it a few weeks ago…

The month of July, in any case, fell within pre-health crisis standards. But in high standards, can we be reassured, “if we go back to 2019, the total number of overnight stays is 10% higher” announces the AaDT, the Agency for Tourist Attractiveness and Development.

At the level of the department, the volume of visitors is down slightly. The specialists had announced it a few weeks ago, the start was sluggish in the first half of July, with no major event, like the Tour de France usually, coming to draw attendance.

Fortunately, “we have experienced a significant rebound over the last week, exceeding 2021 levels” notes the Agency. This is undoubtedly due to the beautiful weather “which favored excursionism”. This has therefore compensated for the drop in the number of tourists.

Spaniards, Britons and Americans

When we look in detail, it is the foreigners who save this beginning of summer in the 64. “It was the great unknown for these holidays, after the two years of access restriction” underlines the AaDT. But they came back strong. “The Spaniards, the British and the Americans show a significant increase in overnight stays compared to 2019, while the Germans and the Dutch are back to their pre-crisis level. The Swiss, who had come to discover the coast for the past two years, continued to come. Inland, it is mainly the Spaniards who are present,” explain tourism observers in 64.

Thus, there are +42% overnight stays among foreigners, when the number of French overnight stays is down 9% compared to 2021. The tourist relocation, which everyone was welcoming, seems to have lasted. The French apparently wished to cross the borders again. In particular the wealthiest, “who did not return”, or if they did, were limited to the coast.

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Most of the French tourists in July came from Gironde, Haute-Garonne and Île-de-France, a triptych that has been around for a long time. However, Ile-de-France residents were fewer than in 2021 (but more than in 2019) and favored the coast. The people of Bordeaux and Toulouse, for their part, compensated in part for visitors from other departments who had been seen in 2021 and who did not return, whether in Béarn or in the interior Basque Country.

But the Pyrénées-Atlantiques are not the only ones to experience this phenomenon, specifies the AaDT, “markets with strong increases in 2021 such as the North, the Pays de la Loire or Finistère also show strong drops this year, and find their 2019 level.

More targeted spending

This summer season therefore finds a normal face, without a mask, like a daily life without any restrictions. Normal or almost, because this year, the wallet plays an important role in the choice of his holidays and the way to consume them. The Agency’s experts had once again predicted that inflation would change tourism consumption, and this is confirmed by the figures.

“The increase in the prices of accommodation and the various means of transport have directly impacted on-site spending by tourists and day trippers. 63% of professionals in 64 recorded a drop in expenses, which rose to 72% for outdoor activities” relays the AaDT. In addition to well-to-do families who have gone abroad, our department has seen fewer middle-class families. “And when tourists go out, they target one activity, not two,” a professional tells us.

It remains to be seen who pulled out of the game in Béarn in July. Before the start of the summer, the state of reservations was not looking good. Campsites, for example, posted an occupancy rate down four points. But perhaps more than elsewhere in the department, Béarn is dependent on last-minute desires.

600,000 in Pau, “it’s huge”

On this point, it is the urban area of ​​Pau which is the pleasant surprise of this first part of the season. There are people, it’s better than in 2019, and that contradicts the forecasts. “Two significant peaks in attendance were recorded on the weekends of July 14 and July 28,” specifies the AaDT. “We are even on the records of 2021 with 600,000 people in July. It’s huge,” says the director of the Pau Pyrénées Tourisme office, Sylvain Langer.

However, the weather did not look favorable for urban tourism, “especially with the heat wave. But despite everything, these are very good numbers. Our program of activities, reinforced, meets its public”.

The absence of the Tour did not dampen the number of overnight stays either.

In the agglomeration, it is more the wealthy classes that have driven business, while tourists from the working classes are down. Two out of three Pau professionals have noticed this. On the other hand, the rental of furnished accommodation fell by four points, as did day trippers staying in Bigorre, who came less to neighboring Béarn.

“These are the opposite trends than during the Covid years: fewer locals, fewer French people, more foreigners” confirms Sylvain Langer. Perhaps also an effect of the digital campaign that was launched a few months ago, during the first Transavia flights to Béarn. “We reached 4 million people and behind, very quickly, the tourist office received hundreds of calls for information on our destination” notes the professional.

Only downside, the investment of tourists, “in this period of inflation, they pay even more attention to their expenses”, agrees the director of the OT.

In the mountains, we limit breakage. But the craze of 2020 and 2021 is no longer there.

Illustration MZIRNHELD

In the mountains, we rather limit the breakage. We are far from the records of 2020 and 2021, but it is still better than before the Covid.

“It was quite full in July, a little less in the lodgings” we are told on the side of the Lauzart campsite, in Lescun. They have a clientele of hikers, always loyal, but here the reservation book fills up mainly depending on the weather. And when there’s no visibility up there, it’s not terrible.

According to the Attractiveness Agency, it is the Girondins in hotels or second homes and the Spaniards on excursions who save most of the attendance. Because next door, furnished tourist accommodation, for example, recorded an occupancy rate down 7 points in Haut-Béarn and 10 points in the Ossau Valley.

Only half of professionals say they are quite satisfied. And almost all also noticed visitors were spending less.

Finally, in the plain, in the Béarnaise countryside, the same feeling, and frequentation concentrated on July 14 and at the end of the month. Béarn des Gaves appears to be the sector that suffered the most in July.

August looks better than July

If the first half of the holidays is therefore half fig half grape in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, the second half promises to be under the best auspices. “The levels of reservations in August are always positive and this year is no exception” underlines the AaDT. More than one in two professionals already expects to do as well as in 2021, betting on a more affluent clientele, and therefore more spendthrift than that of July. In hotels and open-air hotels, the occupancy rate is already similar to that of last year, while furnished accommodation is lagging behind by five points. Reservations are also lower in Béarn, but again, last-minute ones may change the situation. Also waiting for the senior clientele for September.

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