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French tourism: back on track?


With Paris’ recent confirmation as the host of the 2024 Olympic Games and France’s goal to attract 100 million tourists by 2020, it would seem that the French tourism industry has wind in its sails again. But as summer comes to an end, how did the country’s tourism industry perform?

Highlights

  • French tourism industry posts best results in 10 years
  • +10% sales increase due to boost of European traveller flow boost
  • The country can count on heavy spenders in the coming months: Chinese, Japanese, Americans and Russians

A record-breaking first half of the year

After two years of all-time low results, tourists are finally back in France. Some good news given that Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Foreign Affairs Secretary, aims to reach 89 million travellers by the end of 2017.

For the tourism industry, the first half of the year of 2017 has been the best in 10 years, back to 2008 numbers. According to the Regional Committee of Tourism (CRT), Paris and its region registered 16.4 million hotel bookings for the first semester, +10.2% more than in 2016. Compared with 2015, international tourist arrivals are up by +14.9%, with numbers for heavy spenders going into the double digits. American arrivals are up by +20.5%, +29.8% for Chinese tourists and an impressive +50% increase for Japanese.

In terms of spending, despite an unfavourable currency exchange rate and stronger basis for comparison, numbers are positive too. Since the beginning of the year, both Sales in Store and the number of Tax Free Forms progressed by +10%. For the month of August, the number of Sales in Store progressed by +5% compared with August 2016.

New regulations supporting the industry

Earlier in July, the newly constituted French government agreed on a roadmap to improve the country’s tourism offering, with topics ranging from transportation to cultural heritage and the digitalisation of the industry. Also, easier airport regulations will soon be implemented, Tax Free forms simplified, and specific communications deployed to brief merchants on this topic and to entice more Globe Shoppers in the country. This timely announcement comes as tourism flows are predicted to rise even higher in the coming months, before the festive season.

Indeed, for the second half of the year, the number of hotel bookings is up +70% compared to the same period the previous year.

From the APAC region, Chinese travellers remain France’s number one visiting nationality, with two million visitors expected by the end of 2017. But the surprise comes from the forthcoming 700,000 Japanese tourists who have deserted Paris in favour of new regions, such as coastal Britany or the South of France. These regions are now having to adapt their tourism offering, from hotel complexes to their tourist attractions.

Spending wise, all eyes should be on American and Russian Globe Shoppers whose willingness to spend has been revived by more favourable local macro-economic factors. Global Blue’s 90 days transaction outlook tool predicts an +11% increase in American transactions, compared to the same period a year ago. For Russian travellers, this number reaches +18%.


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