Tourism is the most important sector in Corsica. In 2015, 10,6% of the Island’s employment and 11% of the GDP were generated by tourist’s spending’s. In addition, the population increases sharply in the summer: 430,000 non-residents in the high season (mid-August) for a population of 320,000 inhabitants.
In 2018, 35 million overnight stays were registered (based on air and maritime arrivals). Only 28% of overnight stays are purchased in commercial/collective accommodations (hotels, campgrounds); the remaining 72% are in private accommodations (Observatoire du Tourisme de la Corse, 2018). This is due partly to tourists gravitating towards peer-to-peer sites, but also to the large proportion of secondary homes in Corsica. These account for over a third of total housing on the island, compared to a national average of 10%. (INSEE, 2018).
But the tourism industry is also a major problem on the island, resulting in a high cost of living, long-term rental difficulties due to seasonal offers, high real estate prices and very poorly paid seasonal jobs.
The majority of tourists counted by overnight stays in commercial accommodations are of French nationality (78%); Germans and Italians constitute the bulk of foreign tourists. Most passengers also arrive directly from French ports or airports (85% of arrivals are from France). Cruise ships also bring in a significant number of passengers, 930 000 in 2017, although traffic is on the decline (- 19.6%) due to a slowdown in activity in Ajaccio’s port. This is compensated by an increase in air travel, driven by offering from low cost companies (Tirroloni, 2018). Overall,t he number of tourist arrivals are steadily increasing from year to year.
Marine aquaculture in Corsica is an interesting sector driven by a dynamic synergy between university (Universita Corsica) and leading regional businesses such as the Gloria Maris group. This sector continues to expand and counts nearly 11 companies making 11 million euros a year, employing 120 people in Corsica.
Aquaculture activity in Corsica falls into one of two categories:
- Shellfish farming: production of mussels and oysters, most of which takes place on the Eastern coast, in the Diane and Urbino coastal pools.
- Fish farming: sea bass, gilt head bream, and meagre (or salmon bass) are the species farmed, mostly on pockets along the Western coast. The largest open-sea site (2nd largest in France) is installed in the bay of Ajaccio (SRDAM, 2015).
Aquaculture is the agricultural activity with the highest export volume after winemaking; nearly 80%of production by volume is exported to mainland France or to the rest of Europe (including 95% of fish, 30% for shellfish). Export value was around €13 million in 2016 (ODDC, 2016), of which €9.5 million for fish. Despite its strong economic value, the activity generates few (but highly specialized and skilled) jobs: 125 in 2012, down to 90 jobs in 2016.
The sector is fairly concentrated (only 7 active companies) and well-structured thanks to the Syndicate of Corsican Fish Farmers (Syndicat des Aquaculteurs Corses, Mare è Stagni Corsi). A single entity, Gloria Maris, is responsible for 90% of exports, including 150 shipped beyond Europe.
Corsica is connected to the mainland and the rest of Europe through 6 commercial ports (Calvi’s port is a marina) and 3 airports. There are 29 regular lines, piloted by 6 companies. Corsica Ferries dominates the passenger market, while Corsica Linea and La Meridionale share market access for freight transport. Ajaccio is the principal cruise ship port, while Bastia receives the bigger share of traffic from operators of regular lines. In 2017, regular lines ferried 4 million passengers to and from Corsica, including 2.7 million from France. Cruise ships brought and additional 0.9 million passengers. Although maritime passage has historically been prevalent, in recent years air traffic has caught up, surpassing maritime passages for the first time in 2018 (ORTC, 2018). The number of overall passengers has steadily risen.
For Bastia and other Corsican ports, imports constitute about ¾ of total freight transit (excluding cement and oil products), a commercial deficit which has been stable in recent years. As evidenced by this import/export ratio, freight transport is used to fulfill domestic needs rather than operating as a hub for international routes. The total tonnage transiting through Corsican ports in 2017 was 2.2 million (INSEE, 2018)– compared to 60 million tons for Sardinian ports (Martinetti, 2012).
Unlike for passenger traffic, the vast majority of roll traffic is connected to French ports -about 87% in 2016- and specifically to Marseille, which accounts for 78% of traffic with mainland France. Indeed, most Corsican companies and commerce have developed supply chains with providers from mainland France. Again, Bastia is the leading port in terms of linear meters of freight exchanged, followed by Ajaccio then Porto Vecchio far behind. The Collectivité Territoriale de Corse has an obligation to ensure a minimal service to French ports, which it delegates to one of the regular lines through a competitive procedure.
The fact of its insularity added to the lack of local energy sources means Corsica is highly dependent in terms of total energy supply. Total energy consumption encompasses vehicle fuel, liquefied petroleum gas for heating, combustibles used to produce electricity, etc. It also includes the importation of electricity from Sardinia and mainland Italy, through two interconnectors ODDC, 2019). The island’s oil supply is exclusively brought in by ships, spiking costs and making energy costs weigh more in the local economy than for other French regions. The island is dependent on outside supply for nearly 87% of its total primary energy consumption, which totaled 654 ktoe in 2014.
By contrast, the share of renewable energies within the electricity mix is particularly high nearly 40% in terms of production capacity. As shown, hydroelectricity represents the largest share of renewables, although solar energy has been on the rise in recent years. There are four hydroelectric dams operating in Corsica. In a given year, the share of renewable energies within the electricity mix depends strongly on the water intake contributing to hydroelectric power generation. There are three existing wind farms in Corsica: Calenzana (10 turbines), Ersa and Rogliano (combined 21 turbines), which produce a total of 21 MW, up from 18 in 2014. A regional ‘wind turbine plan’ was established in 2007 to minimize impacts of new installations on biodiversity. Due to Corsica’s sunny climate and monetary incentives, many solar panel projects were initiated up to 2010. Public support consists of a guarantee to buy electricity produced at set rates for installations producing less than 100kWc, with a specific tender mechanism when power provided is above 100kWc (ODDC, 2019).
In terms of total energy consumption, three trends emerge from the past 10 years:
- An increase in electricity imports from Sardinia
- Significant fluctuations in terms of local renewable energy production, due to yearly variations of water intake for hydroelectricity
- Persistent decrease in LPG imports
On December 18th, 2015, Corsica voted a Pluriannual Energy Programme (PPE, 2015). It aims to bring the share of renewable energies up to 22% of total energy consumption by 2023, and up to 40% of electricity production. This will be done by relying on increased energy efficiency, lower overall consumption, and higher installed power capacity for renewables.
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