This English term is sometimes used in French to refer to a tourist area. It is, however, less precise than the various terms used in French and covers a wide range of places, including resort establishments and comptoirs (enclosed zones created for tourism purposes and managed by a single operator with no permanent residents)

Throughout the world, it is also used to describe hotels or holiday clubs, sometimes in conjunction with the term “spa”. The intention here is to associate the accommodation and relative services with a sense of comfort and quality. This is the case for the thousands of villas at the Olhuveli Spa and Resort in the Maldives.

Some coastal tourism developments are based on this type of establishment, and would now be considered comptoirs, particularly according to the definitions in the typologie des lieux touristiques. The Riviera Maya south of Cancun is a very good example of this (Ill. 1), with around 60 establishments, as is Egypt’s Red Sea coast around Hurghada, with 45 establishments along 100 kilometres of coastline. In some cases, they take up continuous stretches of coastline, with no space between them (Ill. 2).


Ill. 1. The Riviera Maya: a coastal district south of Cancun full of resorts or comptoirs (source:


Ill. 2. The Egyptian coastline south of Hurghada (photo: Mathias Thunemann/Pixabay)

Philippe DUHAMEL