Change of the Season
Today Basil Howitt asks how can tourism be developed to compensate for the agricultural decline in the Languedoc-Rousillon
With so much agricultural decline in the Languedoc-Roussillon, you may not be surprised to learn that it is the region of highest unemployment in France. As I write in September 2007, the Languedoc-Roussillon’s unemployment rate is 11.1% (down from c. 18% ten years ago) against a national unemployment rate of around 8% (down from c.12% during the same period). One encouraging sign is that the improvement rate here is 3.2 times better than the European average.
Many of our elected representatives in the various levels of public office (from Mairie to Conseil Régional) have often asserted that the decline in agriculture must be remedied by growth in the tourist sector.
But how far is this possible? Anyone who drove down here this summer for a holiday during the horrendous “black” Saturdays on 28 July and 4th August (“circulation extrêmement difficile” as specified in the Government website Bison Futé) and endured traffic queues stretching up to 50 kilometres north of Perpignan will readily assume that there isn’t too much room for many more tourists in hotels and camping sites during the high-season months of July and August. Many of the beaches of the 10 main seaside resorts along the Littoral and the Côte Vermeille are jam-packed in high summer.
“Eight million tourists bring in 1.5 billion euros”