Languedoc: “tourists are here but not spending”

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Owners of tourist locations in the region, primarily bars, restaurateurs and retailers have voiced their concerns that the tourists who have arrived a-plenty are not spending enough money.

The port of La Grande-Motte is deserted. The sky is clear and visitors are enveloped in a thick, oppressive heat. At the entrance to the Charles de Gaulle quay, a few bathers back from the beach venture into the interior of the building to refresh themselves cheaply. The claim that their 2-star hotel room was already “too expensive”.

“There’s nothing here, there are only restaurants” claims one, “I was told that there was a Lidl or a Leclerc here.”  Having drunk cans of soda and eaten some crisps, these vacationers returned to stroll on the sand.

If the terraces of bars and other cafés are empty in the late afternoon, the beach is packed with people. The smallest available spaces are littered with umbrellas. Stony piers are covered with sun-mats.

As in many coastal resorts, there is a big gap between attendance and consumption. There have never been as many people in La Grande-Motte, yet tourism professionals complain about the attendance inside their institutions.

In front of his restaurant, Bernard distributes flyers to passers-by. Despite an attractive sounding formule with unlimited moules-frites for €18, he struggles to fill its tables of four. Instead, you find four sharing two pizzas and a pichet of water.

Elsewhere, others do better: “I have a friend who works in a supermarket not far from here. Not so long ago, he had two or three deliveries of produce a day. This year it’s seven a day.”

Hotels and camp sites are also among the winners. Some visitors have complained that the cost of accommodation is so high that they haven’t got any money left for the other luxuries they wish they could buy, such as meals out.

[We’re curious to see if this phenomenon is exclusive to the coast. Are you seeing high foot-fall in restaurants where you are? Ed]