20 August 2015

Record number of tourists expected in 2015

France, the world's leading tourist destination, is on track to set a new record in terms of tourist numbers, with over 85 million visitors estimated for 2015. Tourist spending is also on the rise. These record numbers are the fruit of efforts on the part of the industry, and attest to the success of the tourism promotion strategy, a strategy which must be stepped up if we are to encourage longer tourist stays.
Initial figures for this tourist season in France suggest that we will set a new world record for tourism in 2015. The definitive figure for foreign visitors could, according to Laurent Fabius, "exceed 85 million […]. Our sources also indicate tourist spending is on the rise":
  • Hotel stays were up 2.3% in the first half of the year compared to last year. In the first quarter, tourist numbers in terms of overnight hotel stays were up 2%, and up 3.6% for foreign guests. In the second quarter, calendar effects were particularly positive. Figures for French holidaymakers were up by 5.8%, with 7% more heading to destinations within France.
  • For this summer, industry polls show excellent trends. Industry turnover is up 4 to 4.5% this summer, although this overall figure conceals contrasting realities. Normandy is set to welcome even more visitors in 2015 than in 2014, which was nonetheless the year of the World Equestrian Games and the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Landings.
  • Some sectors have recorded significant increases in numbers: camping and caravanning were up 9% for July-August compared to the same period last year, visitors to theme parks climbed from 6% to 10% and river cruises saw a 10% increase in numbers.
  • Chinese visitors to France are set to surpass 2 million this year. The target is 5 million. Laurent Fabius noted that Chinese tourists ranked 6th in France in terms of spending in 2015, moving up from 12th place in July 2014.
Camping in France

This success is the fruit of efforts on the part of the industry as well as the culture of tourism that has been fostered by the tourism promotion strategy. Cyclical factors such as good weather and the decline of the euro also drove up visitor numbers in France. The 48-hour visa service available in certain countries has had a particularly strong impact, accounting for one third of the visas issued by France in the first half of the year and yielding a 56% increase in the number of visas issued to Chinese visitors and a 65% increase in visas for Indians. Overall this translated to a 17% increase in the number of visas issued since January.
It is now time to step up this strategy: if we are to achieve the target of 100 million tourists in 2020, we need to encourage longer stays and to diversify tourist destinations, as has been achieved with "centres of excellence" and themed attractions to promote wine tourism and ecotourism. A review of this tourism strategy will be conducted at the first annual tourism conference on 8 October, which is to be attended by the ministers concerned and a cross-sector of industry representatives.

A tourism development strategy

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