“In Marseille, tourism professionals have a smile”

Better than 2020 … but still not at the level of 2019: the tourist activity of Marseille has all the same benefited from a good season according to the data which have just been published by the Tourist Office.

At the time of the first assessments, and after a still difficult spring, tourism professionals are smiling, welcomes the Marseille Convention and Visitors Bureau. Air traffic recovered well over the summer from Marseille Provence Airport, its level exceeding 60% of 2019 traffic over the same period, reports the OT. Domestic traffic was “only” down by -26% compared to 2019, in particular thanks to traffic from / to the French provinces (-25.4% vs 2019) and Corsica; this market having returned to its 2019 level before the health crisis. Traffic from / to Paris remained down -42.1% vs. 2019. Internationally, traffic was significantly higher than in 2020 but still down -45.0% compared to 2019. ”Not surprisingly in terms of many restrictions still weighing on travel to and from many countries, European traffic, despite a drop of -38.8% vs. 2019, represented the bulk of international traffic.

Positive evolution of RevPar

As for the hotel industry, Marseille Aix-en-Provence posted major increases in activity over the summer: + 24.1% in turnover for an overall occupancy rate of 82.6%. In Marseille, hotel performance in the first weeks of August is better than in previous weeks with daily occupancy rates between 79% and 94%. The performances are generally superior compared to the same period in 2020. Indeed, the average prices are in clear evolution compared to 2020, thus leading to positive evolutions of the RevPAR. High-end hotels have the best results in terms of occupancy rate, i.e. 95% (up from 2019 and down 1.1% from 2020) while increasing their average price by 18.8 % compared to 2020, bringing their RevPAR to € 209.3 excluding tax (+ 17.5% between 2020 and 2021). Note that all the niches record a higher RevPAR over the period in 2021 compared to the same period in 2019 and 2020.

Relaunching business tourism

The Marseille summer was also marked by the resumption of cruises. On Saturday August 7, the MSC Seashore made its first stopover in Marseille, as part of its inaugural cruise. The liner will return to Marseille every week until the end of the summer. The ships Costa Smeralda and MSC Seaside continued their weekly stopovers on Sunday, now joined by MSC Seashore on Saturday. The German companies TUI and Hapag Lloyd also called in Marseille, as did the French shipowner Ponant.

All of the service providers questioned observed better activity in August compared to 2020. Activity even tends to return to similar levels compared to 2019. According to the service providers, the clientele is mainly French and mainly regional (50 % or more). A few foreign tourists have been identified, particularly from neighboring European countries, also notes the OT.

La Cité phocéenne now has its sights set on the off-season and aims to restart MICE, which is essential for the destination. “The leisure clientele in September will undoubtedly be there, but we are now going to focus on business tourism, a sector that is still cautious and fearing a 4th wave, even if requests have picked up in recent days”, notes Marc Thépot, the president of the Metropolitan Tourist and Congress Office.

Janelle B. Smith

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