Emmanuel Macron spoke again on Tuesday November 24th,2020. The French president announced that the lockdown would end on December 15th, provided that COVID contaminations fall below 5,000 per day. This means French people will be allowed again to “move around without authorization, including from one region to the other, and spending Christmas holidays with family“.
Will French people celebrate the Festive Season?
“The spike of the second wave is behind us” declared Emmanuel Macron during his TV appearance on November 24th. Though, the virus “remains active in France as well as throughout the northern hemisphere”. Therefore, the French president reinforced the importance of “keeping up our efforts”.
One-fourth of French people give up on the idea of travelling
Many questions arise: Will we be allowed to meet up with relatives? How many people can join together? Will there be a curfew ?
Usually, up to 14 million people travel at this time of the year. By analyzing the impact of the second lockdown on the upcoming travel intentions, VVF Ingénierie highlights that among the 76 % of people used to travelling on Christmas holidays, 24 % has giving up the idea for this year, and 18 % has renounced celebrating with their relatives, refrained by the fear of being confined by the end of the year.
Lockdown is to end on December 15th, but only if the spreading of the epidemic slows down to 5,000 maximum contaminations a day. However, from this date onwards, a curfew from 21.00 to 7.00 the next day will be set up, except for Christmas and New Year’s eves during which people will be allowed to move out freely.
French people will therefore be able to travel, but in what conditions? They are 72% willing that travel agencies give them some reassurance, especially on the sanitary issues. Are tourisme stakeholders prepared for that ?
Focus on the coach operators
Still based on the VVF Ingénierie survey, 44 % of the French people remain optimistic and consider booking last minute holidays if actually deconfined.
If rail operators plan on getting back to full offer for Chistmas vacation, coach operators, for their part, never really stopped their activity.
Facing cancellations replaced by rapatriations, summertime activities and preparation for the winter season during this second lockdown, coach operators had to adapt to the successive leaps and bounds.
The motorcoach industry is ready, but where will people be allowed to travel to?
Where can we travel to?
What about the ski resorts?
President’s speech, on November 24th, has come as a blow for ski resorts. Emmanuel Macron points out that it is “a better option to recommand their reopening by mid-January under proper conditions”.
Some mountain professionals keep hope on an earlier reopening, for the Christmas holiday season especially. “the debate launched with the Prime Minister, whose last meeting was held less than 24 hours from the President’s speech, left open several possibilities (…) among which the opening of skis areas for Christmas season, with very strict protocols to which the mountain professionals had been already working on all together”, has declared Vincent ROLLAND, co-president of Savoie Mont Blanc Tourisme, representing 112 resorts.
President’s position has been confirmed by Jean Castex, French Prime Minister, during his speech on November 26th. He explained that “the situation does not allow us to consider their reopening” for Christmas holidays. “It would not be wise to let join together a large flow of population”, in particular because of the saturation of hospitals within the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region – where many ski areas are settled. One more reason is that winter sports themselves can lead to injuries, overcrowding hospitals already satured by the sanitary situation.
He specified that “Of course, it is up to everyone (…) to go to the resorts to enjoy the fresh air of our beautiful mountains, and visit the local shops which will be open – except for bars and restaurants. Simply put, ski lifts and public amenities will be closed”.
French people shift towards alternative destinations
Past December 15th, if the sanitary situation allows it, travelling from one region to the other will be possible.
Since the president’s announcements, bookings keep on increasing. 75 % of the people declare that the second lockdown has modified the way they consider their vacation, and 57% became conscious of the importance of a change of scenery and entertainments (according to VVF Ingénierie’s survey).
The top destinations for this Holiday season appear to be Brittany, Normandy, the Gironde estuary and Provence. These are rather summertime destinations, so we can notice a report from mountainside to seaside or even countryside destinations.
What about travelling abroad? Jean Castex has confirmed on November 26th that going to foreign destinations would be allowed from December 15th onwards. Tourism will be allowed as long as it respects the curfew restrictions, thus permitted between 07.00 and 21.00.
To be able to leave from France, travelers will have the respect the local possible restrictions of the visited country, as mentioned on the map below.
- Green areas: French travelers are admitted, a PCR test can be necessary.
- Orange areas : a quarantine upon arrival is mandatory
- Red areas : countries closed to French travelers at present, but the situation can still change.