For more than a year, the Seine has regained a calm that it hardly knew. For lack of tourists, the river emptied of its cruise ships, commonly called “Bateaux-Mouches”. After a year of health crisis, the consequences are dramatic for this sector mainly linked to tourism and events, two activities stopped.
In 2019, at least 50% of the 110 companies authorized to navigate the river or use the banks for catering activities have lost at least 70% of their turnover, even 90% for some. The other half deplore a 50% drop in their turnover.
While a resumption of cultural activities is planned in the coming weeks, the Bateaux-Mouches companies do not see this as a glimmer of hope. The absence of foreign tourists, who represent more than 60% of the usual clientele, is a shortfall.
“ Until foreign tourists are there I’m not sure if I will open as it would be a wasted start. It is not the Ile-de-France people who make up most of our customers “, valued Thibaut Sainclair, Managing Director of Compagnie des Bateaux-Mouches. “ It is not until April 2022 that we will see the Bateaux-Mouches full of people circulating on the Seine. », He regrets.
Same story on the side of the companies Parisian boats and Batobus, leaders in Seine cruises with 4 million passengers in 2019. After a difficult 2020 with an 80% drop in turnover, the companies of the Sodexo group must face up to an end of the year without foreign tourists, which will be followed by a winter where frequentation is usually less.
Attract residents of Ile-de-France
To mitigate the drop in activity, Bateaux Parisiens and Batobus rely on French tourists. Last summer, the operation “Les Enfants d’Abord” was launched, offering free tickets for children under 12 years old. ” The aim was to reach out to Ile-de-France and more broadly French families visiting Paris. Success has been met with more than 10,000 families welcomed as part of this special operation which will also be repeated for the resumption in June. », Announces Arnaud Daniel, Deputy Managing Director of Bateaux Parisiens and Batobus.
Haropa Ports de Paris, operator of the 70 ports in Ile-de-France, decided last year to lower fees for its customers (Bateaux-Mouches companies, restaurants and bars located on the banks) due to their decline in activity. The operation will be repeated this year. The public establishment, which saw a 50% drop in turnover to 5 million euros last year, also extended the temporary occupancy agreements from two to four years to offset the effects of the health crisis.
“ It seemed important to take action to reduce the costs of companies, some of which have had no activity for several months. », Estimates Antoine Berbain, Managing Director of Haropa Ports de Paris.