The impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on the tourism market is likely to be continued until 2022, says Claude Olive, Mayor of Anglet

The impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on the tourism market is likely to be continued until 2022, says Claude Olive, Mayor of Anglet

Today, June 15, 2020, France removes restrictions on crossing its internal borders. True, this year, given the difficult situation caused by the crisis of COVID-19, France bets on the development of domestic tourism. One of the most attractive tourist destinations in France for both foreign tourists and the French themselves is the coast of the Atlantic Ocean (where France borders on Spain, namely the Basque Country), in particular, the city of Anglet, located on the shores of the Bay of Biscay (department Atlantic Pyrenees (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), Nouvelle-Aquitaine region.

Anglet, a resort town known for its wide sandy beaches, became a particularly popular place during the “Beautiful Era”, when residents of the urbanized neighbouring resort towns of Biarritz and Bayonne chose to go there “for a breath of clean countryside air.” Today Anglet is the third city in the department and covers an area of almost 27 km2. The population is 38,663 people.

The main part of the economy of Anglet is a regional international airport – Biarritz Pays Basque Airport, also known as Biarritz Airport or Biarritz-Parme Airport. This airport serves all Atlantic resorts in the southwest coast of France. The airport is served by numerous European hubs.

Anglet also houses the factory of one of the largest French aircraft manufacturers, DASSAULT AVIATION, providing the city with more than 500 jobs and making Anglet one of the leaders in the high-tech industry in France.

Anglet Mayor Claude Olive told about how the city is adapting to new conditions, as well as about its main attractions.

Interview: Irina Rybalchenko

Today, France is opening its internal borders, allowing tourists from neighbouring countries to visit the country. How do you see tourism development in the summer of 2020?

According to the owners of the hotels, the first figures of the reservation are very timid. July will certainly be mixed, because the French still need to be reassured and are waiting for measures taken by the government to continue to exit self-isolation. As we understand, this whole season will be special. I think that the French will prefer destinations in France, and the southwestern region will be privileged.

Anglet has several assets to attract the French this summer: beaches, natural open spaces, pine forests and close proximity to the Basque Country, Landes and, of course, Spain.

What do you think will happen when the situation improves and tourism in France improves? Do you believe France and your city can be revived?

Tourism recovery will be partial, gradual, and initially the emphasis will be on the development of local tourism. The French will prefer France as a tourist destination.

The impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on the tourism market is likely to be continued until 2022. Tourism will never be the same. For vacationers and landlords, certain rules will be improved to ensure maximum health security.

Anglet is a city for surf lovers. What else is interesting in your city?

Anglet declares itself as a sports and environmentally friendly city! Our 4.5-kilometer coastline consists of 11 beaches where, in addition to surfing, you can engage in many other water sports, such as Le sauvetage côtier (saving lives is an official sports discipline recognized by the IOC, but not yet included in the Olympic program). It is also le Pignada with nearly 250 hectares of forest and the Ecological Park of Isadia (le parc écologique Izadia), which extends over 15 hectares and is a place of observation of flora and fauna.

Anglet offers many sporting events, the most famous sports facilities are a skating rink, golf courses, and a horse-riding club. We also have a thalassotherapy centre in our city.

Anglet is also an all-year-round entertainment with an ambitious cultural policy, including theatre, many exhibitions and a centre for contemporary art.

How many tourists visit your city annually?

The latest figures from 2019 show 5,135,000 visitors.

What are the main economic indicators of the city? Is the city’s economy dependent on tourism or are there other sectors that generate revenue?

The tourism sector is important to us and forms about 20% of the city’s economy. Our city has more than 20 thousand jobs, of which 54% are employees of shops, services and transport, 26% are healthcare workers and social workers, 13% are industry workers (especially aviation) and 7% are representatives of construction sectors.

The largest factory located in Anglet is Dassault aviation factory, one of the flagships of French aeronautics.

Anglet demonstrates positive economic figures thanks to the international airport, commercial seaport, university with 1300 students and an engineering school and vocational training centres.

400 hectares of land reserved for agricultural activities.

What are the main investment projects that are a priority for your city?

Anglet is in the centre of the Basque Country agglomeration. We began a real reflection on improving urban planning and city development. Our desire is to preserve the “heart and soul of the city” by connecting it with the surroundings and suburban areas.

We consider new challenges related to improving the environment, including the project “nature in the city” and the development of mobility.

The two main highways, the RD 810 and Le boulevard du BAB cross the city and are in the process of improvement. We are turning them into urban boulevards with planted trees and made pedestrian areas.

In addition, preference is given to new modes of transport, such as trambus. We are also increasing the number of bike paths.

In addition, a new district is being built on the outskirts of the city, Coeur de Sutar. There we want to create a residential centre with shops, public places and a school.

We are also exploring the possibility of building an ocean water entertainment centre.

Our immediate plans are the reconstruction and expansion of the library.

What is the price of real estate in Anglet (compared to neighbouring Bayonne and Biarritz)? How will the COVID-19 crisis affect prices? Can we expect a decrease in prices for the purchase and rental of housing in your city?

The proximity of the Basque Country puts significant pressure on land prices, especially in the coastal zone. Housing prices in France and Spain are generally equal along the coast, but higher than the average for France. This is the other side of our attractiveness, which leads to high demand.

The first figures after the crisis of COVID-19 do not show a significant drop. Our region and, in particular, our commune, is considered a place where life is very attractive.

Is there any land for sale? What investment projects can interest your city? How do you prefer to search for investors?

If the demand for land is large, and the number of areas to be developed is becoming less and less, we prefer to develop our economic attractiveness with the help of new technologies or green buildings. Anglet also wants to diversify its accommodation offer, and we are exploring the possibility of offering an alternative to hotels – we want to build eco-camps or surf camps.

And, of course, we are open to investors and carefully study all investment offers—always with the support of municipal and agglomeration services.

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