Commercial accommodation

Commercial accommodation is accommodation for which a fee is charged for the service, which is binding to the user and the accommodation provider. Generally speaking, there are four main types of commercial accommodation in the sector: hotels, all-inclusive resorts, tourist residences and campsites. A fifth category emerged in the 2010s with the sharing economy: private rentals (e.g, Airbnb).

A hard-to-define commercial accommodation sector

The accommodation sector, combined with the catering sector, generated a turnover of more than 96 billion euros in 2016 in France for approximately 270,000 businesses censused (Statista, 2021). Claire Bouquet, Luc Vacher and Didier Vye (2019) determined that accommodation concerns nearly 150,000 establishments, for more than five million beds (Ill. 1).

Ill. 1. Types of commercial accommodation in France and corresponding number of beds. It is worth noting the large accommodation capacity of campsites, which account for almost half of available beds, although they represent less than 10% of the number of establishments. This is significant in the development of spaces, bearing in mind that the number of beds per establishment is, in fact, equivalent between tourist residences and campsites (source: Bouquet, Vacher and Vye, 2019).

Furthermore, 30.6 million people were employed in the tourist accommodation sector alone in 2017. The same year, tourists spent more than 428 million overnight stays in France, of which 124 million were in campsites (Statista, 2021).

The commercial and non-commercial sectors are partly intertwined. While hotels, holiday villages and youth hostels are identified as commercial, others may be identified as either commercial or non-commercial, depending on the user. For example, campsites can be non-commercial when the owner of a mobile home invites or lets friends and relatives use the property. Similarly, a second home may be categorised as commercial if the owner decides to put it on the rental market (Violier et al., 2021).

Stakeholders challenged by new tourism practices

New forms of shared accommodation (such as couchsurfing and home exchange) and stakeholders such as Airbnb are changing the game on a daily basis, first and foremost in terms of price. The first study published by INSEE for the French market integrating online private-accommodation platforms only dates back to 2017. The trend represented 16% of overnight stays in commercial tourist accommodation in 2016, which is almost as much as overnight stays in campsites (19%) (Bouquet et al., 2019).

Traditional commercial tourist accommodation must increasingly face competition from these new methods of accommodation and should be reinvented. Moreover, there is a high degree of permeability between these options and standard accommodation (Bouquet et al., 2019). Tourists have high expectations for their accommodation. Air conditioning, room Wi-Fi and breakfast are all amenities which tourists deem essential. About 50% of tourists say they pay attention to online comments about potential accommodation.


  • Bouquet Claire, Vacher Luc et Vye Didier, 2019, «Que nous dit l’offre Airbnb sur l’évolution des territoires touristiques? Le cas de La Rochelle/Île de Ré», Mappemonde. n°125, en ligne.
  • Statista, 2021, L’hébergement touristique marchand en France. Rapport, décembre, 41 p., en ligne.
  • Violier Philippe, Duhamel Philippe, Gay Jean-Christophe et Mondou Véronique, 2021, Le tourisme en France 1, approche globale. Londres, ISTE Éditions, série «Tourisme et systèmes de mobilité», 273 p.