Tourism in Béziers: timid consumption in restaurants, worried professionals

After the impact of the health crisis, catering professionals have had to deal with inflation this year, which has led to a drop in the average ticket for consumers.

The Covid years have greatly disrupted the way restaurateurs operate, who have had to constantly adapt to new health restrictions. Professionals were therefore counting on this summer of 2022 to replenish their cash flow with this return to normal.

But that was without counting on inflation, which spared no one. “We had a fairly large attendance over the season, recognizes Patrick Olry, president of the Union of trades and industries of the hotel industry (UMIH) of Béziers and manager of the restaurant l’Ambassade in Béziers. But in terms of consumption, it can be estimated to be down.” According to him, this decrease amounts to 10% in the catering sector in Biterrois.

Competition from foreign countries

Because if the professionals were able to find foreign tourists, they did not find all of their customers. “We have not managed to compensate with customers with a large average basket, which is also down, even if it exists”says the restorer.

In question, the resumption of international flights, bringing with it the resumption of competition with foreign countries, in particular Spain. A double-edged return to normal.

Reduced seasonal teams

But inflation is not the only thorn in the side of restaurateurs. During this summer season, they also suffered enormously from the difficulty of recruiting seasonal workers. “20 years that the situation is deteriorating and today it is accelerating”, he observes bitterly.

According to him, if some institutions, who already have their team, were able to do well, for others, the situation was much more complex. “The new ones did what they could, sometimes with employees asking for an extension, otherwise they leave. So that creates turnover, instability and a drop in quality. Then it plays on the atmosphere”, explains Patrick Olry. This while restaurateurs have also had to face inflation and the increase in the cost of raw materials, the cost of energy or even the provision of services.

Closed at noon

Some therefore had no other option than to reduce their opening hours, notably by closing at noon. “They made the choice to refocus on the highlights, so on the evening”, he says. In addition to these reduced teams, there is also the strong heat which has not helped their situation. Tourists have therefore sometimes limited their travel during the day during peak heat waves or favored the coast. “The seaside was very busy. In Valras-Plage, the terraces were very full”adds the restaurateur.

If overall the balance sheet is therefore not too bad, catering professionals are now waiting for the end of the year to draw up an overall balance sheet. “But if there is a lack of activity this winter, the consequences are likely to be drastic for some”, warns Patrick Olry. Potential closures that would weaken the sector once again.

A profession that attracts less and less

If this summer, the shortage of seasonal workers caused a lot of talk, the difficulty in recruiting new employees goes back further. Indeed, according to Patrick Olry, president of the UMIH of Béziers, the health crisis has accentuated this trend.

“Sectors, especially in the crafts, which require involvement and with specific hours, no longer attract. So to renew people who leave after four years, because they have finished their training, we have a lot of badness”he observes.

Aiming for a career abroad

“And then today, we lack qualified human skills to supervise unqualified people”, he continues. A decrease which could be explained by more attractive foreign competition.

“Projections in the development of the company are more interestingexplains the president of the UMIH of Béziers. Then today we have big names in the restaurant industry who have settled abroad and are looking for it.”

So many factors which risk in the long term to lead to a reduction in the reception capacity of certain establishments, according to Patrick Olry.

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