Written by Staff Writer at CNN
Caravans are gathering in the Alpine villages, forests and streams above Loire Valley with the clock ticking on the first official day of the summer season in the German Federal Republic.
But instead of breaking away for weekend and holiday breaks, more than two million Germans and their families are expected to spend their summer celebrations in their homes.
Historically known as a tourism-rich region, the area historically has encouraged its residents to celebrate the start of the holiday season inside their homes, with beer gardens, bonfires and social gatherings.
“The north of the country has a lot of closed areas which are used for vacation and do not allow vehicles to travel in,” says Heinz Hase, chief executive of the Loire Valley Association.
“We are opening every weekend from Saturday, July 13 till Sunday, July 28 to people to enjoy themselves and meet others.”
The goal of this year’s event is “to promote the fantastic life of Loire Valley,” Hase adds.
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The holiday season is a crucial period for Loire Valley, with tourism playing a vital role in the region’s economy. According to the latest figures from Loire Valley , 38.5 million tourists visited the region during the 2017/2018 winter and summer months. A tenth of all tourists to the state come from abroad.
“Tourism is an important sector in the economy,” Hase says. “A lot of foreign companies are also interested in our region because of the quality of our products.”
But since authorities this year decided to ban travel from July 13 to Aug. 15 as part of a new security plan, many tourists have stayed in their homes or hotels during the holiday period.
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“We believe the Loire Valley Region as a whole is more secure and we get even more visitors to share those experiences,” Hase says.
On the surface, this appears to be a change from previous years, when area authorities turned a blind eye to summer weekend parties. Hase insists there’s been no change to the code of conduct for celebrating the summer. “We believe the activity is not a problem for tourists.
“What we are seeing for the region are more and more local owners getting involved and having fun with their neighbors in their homes.”