In the Far South, a declining tourist off-season

On the morning of Monday, October 30th, gray invaded the sky of Porto-Vecchiais. Clémence, Jérémy and their 3-year-old son Matteo stopped by the tourist office to gather some ideas for activities: “We realized that when the weather is not good there is not much to do.“, laments the couple from Fréjus, before taking their son for a walk. But more than the weather, it was the state of lethargy in which they found the city that surprised them: “We came once at Easter and it was much livelier. There are already many companies that have closed.

With the exception of its always lively square, Porto-Vecchio slowly but surely transitions into winter. “This is very peaceful, confirms Julie Serra, receptionist at the Moderne hotel. During these holidays, we have between one and five rooms rented out of fifteen. We had a good summer, but it takes time to make yourself known. We only opened four months ago.“In Tilbury, firmly rooted in the landscape, we don’t even wait for the All Hallows’ Eve to end the season:”We closed on November 2nd, we only had a 10% occupancy rate in the first week of vacation“, says Belinda, the hotel’s receptionist. Furthermore, in this low season, hotels continue to face competition from furnished tourist accommodation.

“It’s very expensive to come to Corsica”

Jean-Camille De Peretti is one of the Porto-Vecchiais restaurateurs who chose to remain open on All Saints’ Day, but regrets: “This costs me money.“The manager of L’Alta Rocca (traditional Corsican cuisine) is categorical:”There are fewer people than last year at the same time.“The reason is pecuniary, according to him:”It’s very expensive to come to Corsica. Last year the choice of destinations was limited, we were still in the post-Covid era. This year, the world reopened its doors and not everyone came to Corsica, given the prices.“He says he has noticed a change in tourist behavior:”I could see that clients were looking at the euro closer this year. After paying for the trip, car rental and accommodation, they have no money left. So for next year I’m even thinking about changing the formula of my restaurant and making pizzas. It’s less expensive. And pizzerias did very well.

What Jean-Michel Tafani confirms: “The season was very good“, notes the manager of A Merendella, which offers à la carte pizzas. However, it closed on October 10th, but against his will. He cites staffing problems: “People don’t want to work anymore, they are all tired and prefer to collect unemployment…“, he says, disappointed. Henri Salvini, head of Glacier de la Place, says he was not aware of these problems, because he explains that he managed to retain his servers, Walid and Rémi, over several seasons. “We work well, but we also have the location, we are in the square, next to the riding arena. We are not representative…“, thinks the manager of the Porto-Vecchiais café.

And in the far south…

In Boniaziu, Jean-François Le Rolland tells “around ten restaurants still open“, or about half less than in high season. But it’s more than last year on All Saints’ Day: “There were only four or five“, recalls the manager of the hotel-restaurant L’Escale, located in the port. According to him, there was an intention from the municipality, which gave a boost to service: “You have to see the amount of action that the tourist office offers… You can feel it behind it.“The Bonifácio trail attracted a clientele of athletes who would undoubtedly not have come to Corsica.

Despite everything, there is a drop in attendance compared to 2022, which is confirmed by Jean-François Rauber, head of the My Corsica souvenir shops, located in Porto-Vecchio and Bonifacio. “Bonifácio was in clear decline this year, yes. In 2022 we made +20% without knowing how to explain it and here we return to the 2021 numbers.

Decrease in attendance at the Figari track

In the opinion of many, 2022 is not the best point of comparison, because the turnout was exceptionalin a post-Covid recovery context: “There was very strong resilience in island airports in 2022“, agrees Laurent Poggi, director of airport concessions in southern Corsica. “In Figari, in the first nine months of 2023, we recorded a drop of six points compared to 2022, but an increase of 13 points compared to 2019, before Covid“, he highlights. And this season at the end of October, there was an influx of passengers”down 4%, or about 4,000 fewer” having landed in Figari. Surprisingly, “the first week of October was good, but the others were not“, when we enter the school holidays. He explains this drop in service, which Ajaccio airport is also facing (10,000 fewer passengers), due to the reduction in supply: “There were greater frequencies and flight capabilities in 2022, he explains. The offer had been very heavily scaled, but here we are more regretful, because many tourist markets started to compete with Corsica.

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