From rear-view mirror to windshield –

I started my “tourism” career in 2003, almost twenty years already…

A lot of things have changed in our business since then. Concepts, tools and visions follow one another, but one thing seems intangible: the tool for measuring our activity is still very much focused on the “overnight stay”, which remains the alpha and omega of any observation strategy.

Admittedly, the analysis tools in this area are evolving and becoming more refined, INSEE, the tourist tax, the MGK or In Extenso hotel barometers, and now Fluxvision allow us to have a more “precise” view of this question, and also “faster”. Added to this count of overnight stays is the measurement of nationality and the percentage of foreigners, average expenditure, traffic at the counter of our Tourist Offices, and attendance at sites, museums and activity providers.

In short, quantitative, economic, and above all…rearview mirror!!! All these data reflect the past but do not in any way illuminate the path ahead of us…

Gold, to drive, whether it’s a car or a company, you also and above all need a windshield to look ahead, and also headlights to illuminate the road when it is too dark. It is also necessary to look at the same time far away but also just ahead, as well as to the left and to the right to better see possible dangers coming, without forgetting of course the mirrors.

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The art of observing by looking ahead

It is therefore necessary to reinforce the existing observation systems with others that allowobjectify trendsand are based on statistically more robust data than phone calls or e-mails, today the preferred collection tool, supplemented periodically by studies carried out by polling institutes, at the national, regional and departmental level.

That’s good, these tools that “look ahead” now exist, often based on the “scraping” of data from furnished marketing platforms, such as Airdna or Liwango. Admittedly, the analysis is also based on “overnight stays” data, but it is carried out on the status of future reservations, and on more significant volumes with regard to data from the main OTAs operating on this market (Airbnb, HomeAway …).

It should be noted that some OTAs, and in particular Booking, are also data sharers, as long as they are asked to do so. This data is interesting information in terms of average price, booking window, average rating of one destination compared to another, cancellation rates or booking trends for future periods.

Still in this logic of observing trends, the rail and air sectors are “technically” able to provide data. But apart from the Forwardkeys tool, which provides excellent anticipation of air flows, our national companies and particularly the SNCF are particularly opaque on the subject, and are not currently organized to communicate statistics on a regular and transparent basis. , at least at regional and local level, and I do not feel that this is the case at national level either.

There is undoubtedly still a lot of “windshield” data to identify and collect, particularly outside the economic and overnight stays, to better adapt “tourist” strategies to the major challenges of the months and years to come, particularly around the positive and negative externalities of tourism.

1656916929 23 From rear view mirror to windshield Etourismeinfo
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And the measurement of the “externalities” of tourism on a territory?

At the very moment when I begin to write these lines, the temperature is close to 40° in La Rochelle, and no “sustainable” indicator has yet emerged. The carbon balance sheets, which are certainly necessary, still often remain conceptual and difficult to monitor over time, and it is difficult to extract operational strategies from them. In short, our necessary CSR, Iso, Quality Tourism approaches… are still struggling to make us switch to committed & proactive strategies, despite numerous initiatives and actors committed to the subject, from ADEME to ATD with its Methodological guide on the indicators of a sustainable destination.

And yet, in these times when “mass tourism” has become a very practical foil, without it being possible to determine precisely what this concept covers, it is certain that tourist “pressure” on a territory has concrete impacts which should be measurable on a number of everyday issues including:

• The drinking water consumption. In a growing number of territories including mine, the scarcity of drinking water resources is a reality, due to global warming. The question of the capacity to accommodate “additional inhabitants” in summer will therefore arise the day when water cuts are made inevitable. Between intensive irrigation, filling the many private swimming pools, watering the gardens, the luxury of taking several showers a day, and welcoming tourists, public policies will have to anticipate the decisions and trade-offs to be made, and therefore integrate the measurement of water consumption into the management tools for tourist observation.

• In the same vein, the pressure on emergency services in hospitals, amplified since the Covid 19 pandemic, requires having a finer measure of summer population flows in a territory, and therefore having forecast data as far upstream as possible, in order to adapt as much as possible may be the human and technical device to be provided.

• Without forgetting the “ overcrowding” of certain hiking trails and natural sites in high season, nor of course theimpact of tourism on real estate pricestopics that have already caused a lot of ink to flow, and which are well beyond the scope of this post.

For good measure, the observation tools will also have to look at the ” positive externalities tourism, we must remain proud of our professions, and have the ability to objectify its positive contributions to the territories. For example, it will be necessary to strengthen observation capacities on the following subjects:

• Number of municipalities, including the last restaurant bar or multi-service shop is maintained only thanks to the contribution of “exogenous” visitors, for example when they are placed on the route of the Vélodyssée, the Chemins de Saint Jacques de Compostelle or a GR;

• Municipalities that would not have no cinema, no doctor… if they had no tourist traffic (particularly true in the mountains and in rural areas);

• Territories whoserail accessibility would be even more reduced or even non-existent if they had no tourist flows;

•Territories including part of theindustrial activity exists thanks to the tourist practice of leisure activities (shapers, boatyards, etc.);

• Territories whose peasant agricultural production is mainly sold “on site” thanks to tourists;

• Cities whose downtown business is maintained thanks to the tourist frequentation, and which thus escape the syndrome of the ghost main streets whose storefronts close one after the other.

The list is not exhaustive. Each of these items is a subject in itself, their addition makes it possible to realize that the real weight of the tourism industry in the economy of a territory is much higher than the INSEE figures and the feelings of the inhabitants. , which do not take into account all these externalities.

Other indicators could usefully be monitored to inform public policies, for example the unfilled job rate in sectors in tension (hotels and restaurants, etc.) which are particularly topical at the moment.

Finally, and in the imperative logic of reducing the carbon footprint of our visitors, indicators such as the rate of visitors coming “by fair means” via soft mobility must be followed by continuouslyand not by survey or poll once every five years, to measure in real time the effectiveness of the measures put in place.

In short, the project is huge, and many indicators are to be imagined to measure all this. Some already exist, and could be used more to strengthen and measure the positive economic impact on a territory, I am thinking in particular of local currencies.

It is therefore necessary to “change the paradigm” and move from a “communicating” vision of observation to a “prospective” and technical vision.

So all together, Atout France, ADN, CRTs and CDTs/ADTS, EPCIs, let’s take up this challenge, and open up the spectrum of observed data, and share them, to better anticipate!

The best observer is the one who collects everything what can enlighten him

We want to thank the author of this write-up for this incredible web content

From rear-view mirror to windshield –