Tourism: travel agencies and tour operators urgently retreat to France to save their summer

Forgotten the long haul and distant horizons: many tour operators and travel agencies have had to strengthen, or even hastily develop, their offers of stays in France to limit the damage in the face of the pandemic which has wiped out international tourism.

“France meets all expectations of a change of scenery”.This short sentence, chosen by Voyageurs du Monde to present its itinerant trips in France, summarizes the challenge that all tour operators have faced due to the confinement: to meet the demand of the French who will mostly spend the summer holidays in their country.

“Our offers for France were mainly aimed at non-French customers, but we decided to put them more prominently on the Voyageurs du Monde homepage” as well as for travel-related second-hand products such as travel bags, cameras..

He points out that hikes and treks in France are particularly popular: “Our Terres d’Aventure brand, for example, achieved a turnover of EUR 1.7 million in one week, which is four times more than usual.

180-degree turn

At Asia, the turnaround was radical: the tour operator, a specialist in the Asia zone where it offers some forty destinations, put together in six weeks an offer of trips to France where it had previously had no activity.

We started from scratch,” says CEO Guillaume Linton, “at the end of March, clients who were going to go with us to Asia this summer asked us to organise a holiday in France. The demand grew, and we also felt that it was a bad idea for us to travel abroad.

Asia has thus contacted French regional tourist operators, “deprived this year of their foreign clientele”, and thanks to the partnerships formed, it launched in early June a “collection” of a hundred or so escapades in France, Corsica, along the Canal du Midi or in the Basque Country.

“We had to be agile, and we wanted to make the most of the fact that we were travel designers before we were even specialists in Asia,” says Linton, who, following this diversification forced by the health crisis, plans to keep this local programming in the future.

“Avoid mass tourism even more”

For Lidl Voyages, the decision to refocus on France has also borne fruit: until now, the French offer represented only 30% of its market share “but this figure more than doubled for July and August,” says Mélanie Marchand, head of the 100% online agency, which offers more than 25.000 stays and claims 60,000 customers.


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