Posted on Dec 19, 2021
Hopes of a bumper Christmas for France's ski resorts, with flights and ferries from Britain fully booked, melted away when Emmanuel Macron banned all but non-essential travellers from the UK last week.
One in four tourists in Chamonix before the pandemic was British. Britons being the largest foreign cohort of visitors to the French resorts.
"I feel sad, disappointed and angry," Thomas Mathieu, the owner of Brasserie les Marmottons, told the BBC. He has already had to let three employees go, anticipating the drop in business.
"Everything is ready here: we put on masks, we have the vaccination passes, we have everything right by our government. It's very confusing for us."
France's Prime Minister Jean Castex has compared Omicron to "lightning" and his government appears willing to allow his country's economy to take the hit, accelerating its booster programme in the meantime.
Some from the UK arrived just before the Friday deadline, however for those catering for the British market, the emptiness is devastating: and an ominous sign of what more could come.
Dave Searle of the British Association of Mountain Guides in Chamonix said "If this continues this season, it'll be a big loss of earnings… up to 50% of my annual earnings is through the winter. I guess I'm worried it's just going to keep doing this every winter. And if I'm losing half my earnings every year, I need to find a new profession.
"It does make sense in some ways and it's all about keeping people safe and hospitals empty, but perhaps it does also feel like a bit of a knee-jerk reaction, singling out one country."
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