Lætitia de Ménibus-Gravier, ne mâche pas ses mots pour présenter ce premier bilan de la situation au gouffre de Padirac.
Lætitia de Ménibus-Gravier, do not stain words to make this first assessment of the situation in the Padirac crater. (© JLB Pictures)

The Badirack gap It opened its doors on May 22, 2021 with a two-month loss of sales compared to its initially planned opening date. Lætitia de Ménibus-Gravier, CEO of Société d’Exploitations Spéléologiques de Padirac, Draws the first evaluation.

“The impact of this intermittent opening is very detrimental, particularly as it has been coupled with a commitment to significantly reduce attendance metrics during peak season.

Attendance decreased by 21%.

As of August 31, 2021, we regret a 21% drop in attendance compared to 2019, the reference year before the coronavirus crisis. This drop in attendance is even more significant in that it has repercussions for sales of restaurants and ancillary shops.

Our company, which has been subject to severe economic sanctions despite the aid it has received, had to show exceptional agility to adapt to all the last minute measures that punctuated the 2021 season. Our visitors leave satisfied thanks to the efforts of our reception teams, but the clients we had to turn down due to unavailability For the second year in a row, some are often disappointed, as evidenced by their comments on social networks.

Despite the massive shortage he experienced at the start of the season, since July 21, 2021 we have had to systematically control the health card of all our visitors. From one day to the next, we assumed the complete disarray of our physical and telephone reception as well as the social costs of this action. However, contrary to what was authorized by Decree No. 2021-955 of July 19, 2021, we have maintained, at times with increasing difficulty, the obligatory mask-wearing in the entire site, the health permit in no way represents a guarantee of non-infection.

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The only positive point generated by the novel coronavirus crisis: we no longer have a queue at the cash desk because 99% of our tickets are sold online. This allows us to better anticipate our flows but complicates matters when we have to manage the increased absenteeism of teams, a phenomenon that has increased sharply during this period.

Employee health going through a “disaster”

In this context of increasing absenteeism and underemployment, the Employee Health Permit in force since August 30, 2021 is a real disaster for our company and our employees. On the morning of August 30, 2021, despite our expectation of action by all possible means (information campaign, facilitated vaccination appointments, etc.), 25% of our seasonal workers did not turn up for their work positions.

We’ve had to close a boutique point of sale, to reduce our attendance metrics by an additional 25%, so we’re full two days in advance, a phenomenon we’ve never seen during this time. Our seasonal fixed-term contracts who have resigned find themselves deprived of resources and have to change jobs, as a very heavy workload is passed on to other employees who hold a health permit and are already experiencing two complex seasons.

The health crisis has wiped out 50 years of continuous growth in the Gouffre de Padirac. Since last year, we’ve regained the attendance we had in 1970. After a year and a half of the health crisis and the continued deployment of adaptation efforts, employee health clearance has arrived as another, perhaps most intractable, hurdle imposed. Recovery is not at the moment, what is the next step? ”

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Lætitia de Ménibus-Gravier, Chairman and CEO, Société d’Exploitation Spéléologiques de Padirac

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