Second hotel city in France after Paris, the Marian city is hard hit by the pandemic. Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne went there to announce new measures.
. The Secretary of State for Tourism, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, announced Friday a reinforcement which usually attracts millions of pilgrims from all over the world each year. The envelope devoted to this plan has been increased by 20 million euros intended in particular for the creation of a territorial intervention and support fund.
“It is a question of making it possible both to face up to the emergency and at the same time to prepare the conditions for a rebound. We still have a few difficult months ahead and that is why we are putting additional credits to support the actors of Lourdes“, explained Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, who went there.
In addition to the creation of this territorial fund, another envelope of 77 million euros is devoted to measures for the deferral of social contributions, loans guaranteed by the State or financing of partial activity. “Substantial efforts are being made, reacted Thierry Lavit, the mayor of Lourdes. What should be noted is the sacred union around this plan. Instead of suffering, we are going to put in place several actions to allow in particular to bring back [pèlerins] individuals in Lourdes“, specifying that the majority of group pilgrimages were canceled until July 2021.
“The season is already dead for the first quarter”
“The season is already dead for the first quarter», confirmed Christian Gelis, president of Umih 65. The employers’ organization is counting on “a 70% decline in turnoverof the city’s tourism professionals in 2021 compared to a normal season. “The big unknown is whether companies will be able to hold on despite the aid. We are going to work on the return of French people and individual pilgrims, but we are not going to change the model in three months.“, he laments, while “Lourdes is 80% groups and 60% foreigners“, he recalls.
Regarding seasonal workers, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne assured that they could “benefit from which is scheduled until the end of February“. “This will still reassure people who are at the end of their rights and who find themselves on the RSA. It will allow them to breathe a little. But if the season does not resume, other measures will be needed“, emphasizes Emilie Auburgan, president of the association of seasonal workers in Lourdes.
The economy of Lourdes, the second hotel town in France after Paris, depends mainly on religious tourism and organized pilgrimages. The Sanctuary and its Grotto, place of apparition of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858, usually attract millions of pilgrims from all over the world each year.