Return to the cave

Usually, the city of Lourdes is teeming with people during the summer months. Pilgrims and tourists of all nationalities meet in the space of the Marian shrine, in the streets, restaurants and hotels. With confinements, health restrictions, border closures, the Pyrenean city, which depends 90% on tourism, lost in 2020 more than 80% of its attendance. Hoteliers, restaurateurs, day trippers, merchants of religious objects have seen their turnover drop drastically.

The year 2021 has not been much brighter so far, although pilgrims are starting to return, as at this time for the high point of the feast of the Assumption. The city is even considered “The most damaged in France” by the Covid-19 pandemic. As such, it receives special attention from the public authorities. The President of the Republic went there in July, and the State granted him 77.4 million euros as part of the recovery plan. A transitional aid that allows professionals to get through the health crisis – which is still “Not behind us”, as Emmanuel Macron declared on Wednesday – but which is not enough to dispel concerns about the future of their activities so dependent on frequentation of the cave of Massabielle.

The attractiveness of the place is therefore a key factor for all local economic players – including the sanctuary. Even before the health crisis, it had also started its transformation, aware that it had to adapt its proposals to the changes in the profile and expectations of pilgrims and tourists passing through. And, for a year and a half, thanks to the Internet, he has been able to maintain a link with the faithful who could not go there. Enough to maintain their desire to come back soon.


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