Tourism: despite a difficult context, professionals do not give up

If there is one sector of activity that drives the economy of the Aude and the Pyrénées-Orientales, it is tourism. The two years of Covid, difficulties in recruiting, galloping inflation and geopolitical conflict, do not tarnish the ambitions of professionals at the dawn of the summer season. They don’t give up.

They invest, they reinvent themselves, they reconsider their human resources (human resources) policy … Everyone is unanimous, “the rich heritage, the environment and the culture are all assets that many envy us And what if this desire to succeed from the top of the hotel and restaurant sector made “desire to want” (according to a popular song) and aroused new vocations?

A promising season

Green light for this 2022 season. According to tourism professionals in the Aude and Pyrénées-Orientales, the occupancy rates of the accommodations for the summer of 2022 are good. Mainly present on the Mediterranean coast, the 4 and 5 star establishments (hotels, restaurants, spas) of Roussill’hôtel, the independent hotel group, show booking rates that “they are also slightly higher than in 2019 “, grants Xavier Lormand, director of the management committee of the Roussill’hôtel.

The same goes for the Aude Cité Hôtels group (Accor affiliate, 4 and 5 star hotels) which relies on exceptional heritage sites from Carcassonne to Figeac via Toulouse. “The occupancy rate of our lodgeboats (boat with cabin, ed) it will reach over 80% in June, July and August. We already have reservations for September and October “says Nathalie Hourlier, marketing and communication manager of the Proméo group (Sète), whose subsidiary Alliance Plaisance has installed 32 lodgeboats in Gruissan.

Investments

In Banyuls-sur-mer, Brice Sannac took over the Les Elmes hotel in 2016 with one ambition: “plan the facility for the next 10-15 years “.”This development, which led to an investment policy (almost 2 million euros with the help of the Region and Europe, ed), it was necessary for our customers but also the working tool. We have created three new suites, a patio, a grill restaurant and a spa “explains the manager (21 permanent employees, 32 seasonal workers, 33 rooms and suites).

The Roussill’Hôtel hotel group has just completed a restructuring cycle of its establishments and is continuing its investments with the aim of “build loyalty among our customers by offering them infrastructures and factory services at an international level “. The group carried out renovations for 4 million euros, relying on local companies in its factories in Canet-en-Roussillon (hotel Les Flamants roses spa), Argelès, Collioure, Montpellier, etc. The hotel group will also increase and diversify its accommodation capacities in Argelès in 2023 and in Saint-Cyprien in 2024 with the Ecovillage (79 wooden villas).

A renewal of the offer

Located on the Grazel pond, opposite the Chalets beach in Gruissan in the Aude, lodgeboats are a new type of accommodation (47 and 65 m2) conducive to living a unique experience. “If the accommodation offer wants to be atypical, we have enriched it with many services to meet the expectations of our customers. These are hotel and leisure catering services that can be ordered at the time of booking or directly on board the lodgeboat, she explains. We have collaborated with local actors: restaurateurs, oyster growers, winegrowers, beauty centers, sports coaches … We have also compiled a travel diary that proposes the captain’s selection of themed recreational activities: local heritage, sports, nautical activities, oenology. .. “.

Located by the sea in Banyuls-sur-mer, the spa hotel Les Elmes expands its offer. “In a week we will open an eco-sustainable private beach where customers can also use the services of the establishment: catering, spa … There, plastic is prohibited. We used natural materials (wood) for the layout and focused on the plant “, says Brice Sannac.

A sector under reconstruction

“The leisure or business tourism activity is recovering despite the context, we feel that people want to have fun. Visibility is still lacking and we are still in a post-Covid reconstruction phase after state aid. “, says Hadrien Pujol, general manager of the Aude Cité Hôtels group (5 factories, 300 employees) who also co-pilots the working group of the Cœur d’Occitanie think tank aimed at developing the Aude economy. Some factories have improved their product. Others work in their teams and use the training lever. Finally, we believe that the efforts made in digital are bearing fruit “.

Tourism professionals are aware of the issues related to the promotion of their profession. “Our investment strategy aimed at expanding the customer experience has been accompanied by an added value for our employees, both for their working comfort and for retaining them, Brice Sannac points out. We have internalized the treatment of the linen, raised the height of the beds to reduce the difficulty of the cleaning work. We also use cleaning products that respect the environment and are not harmful to the health of our employees “. At the Roussill’hôtel, employees were able to train for a complementary activity.

This prevents them from falling into routine and allows them to have a more global view of the establishment “, adds Xavier Lormand. And Hadrien Pujol to conclude: “if it is necessary to strengthen the training tool according to the territories, – there is no school of sommeliers in the Aude for example -, I am convinced that there are talents that are ignored for our work “.

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