Tourists flock back to France over summer after pandemic

By Thomson Reuters Aug 29, 2022 | 6:48 AM

PARIS (Reuters) – Despite cost of living fears, heatwaves and wildfires, the summer 2022 is looking to have been good for the French tourism industry as local and foreign holiday makers swarmed the country after the COVID-19 pandemic rattled the sector during two years.

Tourism Minister Olivia Gregoire told a news conference that preliminary data showed the summer 2022 had been “exceptional”, with 35 million French people going on holidays, or seven out of 10 against six last year.

Meanwhile credit card spending during summer rose 10% from 2019 in French hotels and restaurants, she said.

France depends heavily on tourism, which generates 8 percent of national gross domestic product and provides two million jobs.

Data for July and the first half of August showed revenue per available room (RevPAR), a key gauge of performance for the hotel industry, was up 22.2% when compared to the Summer 2019.

RevPAR in the Paris region and the Riviera were up sharply, driven by a return of wealthy foreign tourists, notably from the United States due to a strong dollar, and from Gulf countries.

In 2019 France was the most-visited country in the world, attracting nearly 90 million foreign tourists.

“We want to remain the number one destination in the world,” Gregoire said.

When asked if France still targeted 100 million foreign tourists, Gregoire said:”It may not be impossible to reach that number, this is a target we can have,”

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Angus MacSwan)