We tested for you the holidays totally on reservation in 2050

We tested for you the holidays totally on reservation in 2050

From our special correspondent in the future (just that),

July 17, 2050, it’s D-Day. And even H hour. Or even M minute. Between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., the Miran family will be able to visit the old town of Dubrovnik and its luminous alleys, with 996 other lucky people. A ride booked more than six months ago. Papa Miran – Peter by his nickname – is a little stressed because this morning, between the ramparts of the city, he decided to offer his wife Noémie his gift of their 30 years of marriage: A place on the heights of Santorini between 7:05 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. to see the sunset next year, April 29, 2051. Two tickets he had to bargain hard on the black market, sunsets in the Greek city – classic gift from the wealthiest to their future grandchildren – being complete until 2123.

After so many efforts to win the precious sesame, he hopes that his wife will like it, although not really a fan of this kind of planned trip. A little boomer in the soul, she remembers the time-when-it-was-better-before, in her youth, when we could decide to go trudge freely on the site of Angkor, take the car and ride all night to wake up in the Gorges du Verdon, or stroll as a couple in Venice after a month of dating. Now, to survey the famous canals, you have to book five years in advance – or be among the lucky winners of the annual global draw organized by the town hall – and pay. As for the word “to stroll”, it has disappeared from language.

“Restriction or destruction”

No choice if we want to preserve these famous sites from mass tourism, a real scourge which, at the turn of the 2020s, had seriously threatened them. “Restriction or destruction” is the slogan that was then launched to limit entries and try to save the most popular spots. A movement that Noémie had time to see coming, without understanding the magnitude it would take. Already, in 2018, when she was entering college, Ecuador was considering imposing a threshold for travelers in the country. In 2019, Machu Picchu drastically limited the number of visitors. And in 2022, it was the turn of the Marseille creeks to restrict their access. As well as in Venice, already.

“The bankruptcy of Thomas Cook [Agence de voyage britannique], in 2019, can be seen as the symbol of the end of a model of overtourism”, notes Didier Arino, who at the time worked * at the Protourisme study firm. “Beyond the obvious ecological and site preservation issues, this way of traveling was reaching its limits,” continues the expert. Nobody wants to be the stupid tourist in the middle of 10,000 tourists”.

social limitation

Same observation with Caroline Mignon, then ** president of Sustainable Tourism Actors (ATD), who remembers that the first “restrictions” were very well received: “Yes, it required more planning, but people are happy to have the place for them or not to queue. The trip is to go where no one goes, not where everyone gathers. » When the young Dylan, son of the Mirans, is bored in front of the slides of the holidays of his parents during their youth, he hallucinates a little: the crowd, the long queues. “With the limitations, schedules and prices, this makes it possible to offer added value. For example, a guide for smaller groups, more explanation, an improved experience”, abounds Didier Arino, convinced not only of the need for the change that has taken place, but also of its benefits.

Despite Dylan’s enthusiasm for this contemporary mode of travel, Noémie continues to pout: her son will never see Chichen Itza in Mexico, access to which now costs nearly 2,000 euros “just to limit the crowd” officially, nor the Colosseum – 229 euros all the same, with 500 people per day -, or the Niagara Falls – 1,320 euros for a little while under the drops. Three destinations that Noémie visited during her youth, and now reserved for the richest. “It was the risk with these limited places, that there was a temptation to raise prices. However, the right to holidays and beautiful places is a social achievement obtained after a long struggle, it should not be lost yourop of its superb, “abounds Jean-Pierre Mas, president of the Air commission at the National Union of Travel Agencies (Snav).

Meeting in unknown land

If there are therefore fewer people today on the English walk in Nice or at Machu Picchu, mass tourism has not dried up. He just scattered. “There will never be too many tourists, there were just too many tourists in the same place”, notes Jean-Pierre Mas: “Travel has found meaning, a quest for novelty. We will be more socially valued by telling an anecdote about a village that no one knows than by showing yet another photo of the Eiffel Tower that everyone has already seen”.

Didier Arino continues the reflection: “No one will make me believe that there is only Santorini as a pretty village in Greece, only Rio de Janeiro as a beach in Brazil, only the Cinque Terre to see in Italy. This is the mission in which tourism has embarked since the beginning of the 21st century: to teach people to go to other places, other destinations, to invite discovery, to give a taste for novelty. »

The end of improvisation

The total reservation, it, does not stop advancing: “Even for the castles of the Loire, it is necessary to reserve five months in advance, despairs Noémie. And choose the menu that we will take on the spot with it. And let us know when we are leaving. In Dubrovnik, it was necessary to indicate on the online form, when booking 18 months ago, whether we had our espresso on the spot or to take away…” For adventure and surprises, we will come back. But for Dylan or Caroline Mignon, this is only a small cost to pay in view of the comfort gained and the preservation of the sites: “We should already have made reservations in many cultural places, like the Louvre for example. Why should historic or natural places escape it? It’s just a habit to get into.”

The trend has also spread so widely that places without listings have made it a marketing argument. Just as in 2020 we sold places without Wifi, we now sell areas without reservations. La Creuse has become one of the most coveted places in France for this reason: you can go for a walk there, in the middle of the fields and the valleys – and sometimes even see some animals – without booking anything. Holidays that Noémie likes more: “Finally, we have the right not to know what we are doing, to find galleys, adventures, the unknown. ON RES-PI-RE”. Dylan is more skeptical: “I know mum loves it, but I think we don’t do a little bit. And then hey, the places are still less nice than Dubrovnik. It is better to reserve for quality than to improvise from the planplan”.

And improvisation is not yet dead, far from it, according to Caroline Mignon: “Yes, there are more and more reservations and planning to be done. But the holidays are and will remain a thrill of the unexpected. It has too much value in people’s eyes to completely disappear. The sunset in Santorini may have become a luxury, but the flat tire on the highway of the sun and the unexpected night at the motel can always arise. Without reservation.

* You will have understood it because we are here in a futuristic fiction, Didier Arino is the current director of the cabinet Protourisme
** You will have understood it because we are here in a futuristic fiction, Caroline Mignon is the current president of Sustainable Tourism Actors

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