France top tourism destination! France breaks travel record
with 83 million visitors! France number "UN"!
Not according to Jean-Pierre Nadir, CEO of the travel site Easyvoyage.
Out of the famous 83 million visitors to France, “14 % are ‘in transit”” and “15 million are ‘Voyageurs Disney” just here to see Disneyland Paris who “spend a half-day in the capital to see the Effeil Tower then leave for elsewhere in Europe.” (Fun fact: anyone passing through customs in a French airport gets counted as a tourist – including in transit passengers who never leave the airport!)
And as for tourist spending, says Nadir, “there’s reason to cry”.
France’s supposed 83 million visitors bring in only 50 billion euros.
Sounds good? Not compared to Spain. With “only” 60 million visitors, Spain does 60 billion in sales. That’s 20% more per capita. Despite France’s clear advantage with business travelers, a high end market Spain’s not even in.
Why aren’t tourists spending more in France?
Because, suggests Nadir, France is not trying.
“In the last ten years Spain has doubled the number of four and five star hotels – which cost on average 14% less than France’s”! And despite receiving less visitors, Spain has more hotel rooms: 680,000 in Spain compared to 580,000 in France.
Even Germany, Nadir notes, does better. (“1.240 euros per visitor with 30 million visitors, compared to 647 euros for France”).
To make matters worse, France’s relative position is worsening.
According to the Rapport sur la compétitivité du tourisme , France dropped from third to seventh in terms of “attractivité touristique” since 2011. And tourist infrastructure investments actually fell 4% last year (to 12,7 billion euros).
France, Nadir says, is frittering away its stupendous natural advantages – the history, the beaches, the magnificent countryside, the luxury industry, the ….(tiens, there really are a lot).
Instead, France “hasn’t added any hotel rooms in the past ten years”. And its tourism infrastructure is aging.
What to do?
Mr Nadir has three suggestions for the government of François Hollande.
First, start with a firm political commitment to making France more attractive to tourists. By, for example, eliminating the hotel tax from the third night in order to reduce the price and encourage longer stays.
Second, make it easier to hire seasonal workers. Bars, hotels and restaurants don’t want or need year round employees – but there is a lot of work during the tourist season. They lose sales due to understaffing because they are “afraid to hire” and hampered by red tape.
And third, suggests Nadir, improve the security of tourists. International press coverage of attacks against Chinese and Japanese tourists in the center of Paris is not helping business.
For full article (in French) see "Non, la France n'est pas championne du monde du tourisme" in Challenges