" A quiet season ? I do not believe that the term is appropriate. In fact, it is expected that it starts, but nothing happens. "The servers make gray mine, Wednesday morning, on the place Saint-Nicolas, in the city center of Bastia (Haute-Corse). Usually, at this time of the year, this vast esplanade facing the Tyrrhenian sea sees the terraces of its cafés besieged by tourists freshly landed from the boats, at morn. But, this summer, these pictures of tables full of holidaymakers starting their stay on the island are only a vague memory.
At a time when france seems to be the starting a recovery, in Corsica, the season remains desperately calm, doubly affected by the health crisis, and estrangement physics that make the trips as the trips are complicated to organize. After three months of sleep, the bars, restaurants and hotels see, of course, the customers come back little by little. But the flow of tourists drastically reduced do not announce the days radiant. Quite to the contrary. "The attendance is in free fall, immediately shows Bernard Giudicelli, president of the regional Union of trades and industries de l'hotellerie (Umih). Fill rates are particularly low, with peaks barely reaching 50 %. Normally, at this time, we are approaching the 90 %... "
A key sector of the economy corse
The numbers are relentless. According to the regional chamber of industry and commerce (ihk), in the port of Bastia, the gateway to sea island, the flow of passengers to the destination of Corsica, have declined by over 55 % during the first two weekends in July, compared to last year. The number of ports of call has been divided by two compared to 2019. Ditto in the air, in which the number of seats has been reduced. It's a safe bet that the balance sheet will be far short of the 3.5 million visitors that the island used to host every year.
In Ajaccio (Corse-du-Sud), the data of the office of tourism is reflected, also, this decline is unprecedented. This month, at the time when the season is expected to beat its full, the number of visitors on its premises has fallen by 70 % compared to July 2019. In June, it was even worse : the counter of the office was down near 90 %. What to give cold sweats to the professionals of the tourism, more and more worried about the balance sheets of the end of the day very below normal season. All know that the shortfall does not catch up to not, and 2020 is apparent already at an " annus horribilis ".
On average, we talk in terms of numbers of cases amputated two-thirds compared to last year. A shock wave that may impact the whole of the island economy. Indeed, in Corsica, tourism weighs very heavy : 31 % of the gross domestic product (GDP), according to the Insee, compared to 7.2% for the national average. A lever of some 2.5 billion euros, which makes the island region of France is the most dependent on this activity. The sector represents approximately 20% of the jobs, without counting the approximately 13 500 seasonal workers hired each summer to " do the season ". But, for the moment, the recruitment is reduced to the bare minimum, in the absence of activity sufficient.
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In this bleak context, the tourism agency of Corsica (ATC) strives, however, to reassure tourists and residents, trying to maintain themselves on a ridge line between economy and health. Since July 21, the revival of the season is accompanied by a distinctive mark, the " Safe Corsica ". Behind this name, the agency intends to build a range secure health through various protocols implemented by the shipping companies and airlines, as well as tourism establishments. Our goal is to make this label a commercial argument to gain the confidence of clients traumatized by the crisis of the sars coronavirus. "This device is a good thing, but it comes far too late," laments Bernard Giudicelli.
at the Beginning of April, the Umih had anticipated the shock by offering to the regional executive, a battery of measures to make Corsica a " destination sanitairement responsible ", without much success. In early may, the president of the region, the nationalist Gilles Simeoni, had instead opted for a " green pass ", a sort of passport health, which should be a condition for any arrival on the island, a negative test at Covid-19. A proposal remained a dead letter with the government. Since the inputs may not be regulated, thermal imaging cameras have been installed since mid-July in the arrival halls of the four airports in corsica. This system, implemented by the regional agency of health and the CCI is used to detect passengers with temperatures exceeding 38 °C. they are then advised to consult a doctor. However, no isolation is provided if a traveler is feverish. This device will be enough to reassure the residents and vacationers ? Hard to say.
"The virus continues to dictate its law"
to try To cushion the economic shock, the government island explore already other tracks. Their credo : to renew the tourist offer of the rear-season, hoping to push the off-peak period with an activity sustained in the fall. The ATC has invested four million euros for a promotional campaign, under the guise of operation attraction for tourists volatile. However, the competition is fierce to attract holiday-makers being courted from all sides.
" Corsica is a land of slow tourism, which has considerable assets to assert around its natural and cultural heritage, writes Nathalie Cau, director of the tourist office of Ajaccio. It will require substantial creativity to decline an offer innovative and diverse. "
If the professionals of the sector participant necessarily to the approach, but they know that the pandemic is still there and that the threat of a second wave night to the trust, at a time when the curve of the contamination starts again to rise slightly. The mask-wearing became compulsory since July 20, in enclosed public places, does not transmit a good signal to tourists, still shivery. "The virus continues to dictate its law and health indicators are worrisome, said Bernard Giudicelli. This climate of uncertainty does not plead in our favour and we should not delude ourselves, the challenge is no longer to save the season, which is already damn. This is how we will recover from this crisis which may last for several years. "