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France retains pole position as the world’s top tourist destination

by Staff

France is set to retain its status as the world’s most preferred international destination in 2024, according to the latest data from the World Travel & Tourism Council. 

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The research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and its partner in data collection, ForwardKeys, indicates a positive trajectory for France’s inbound travel over the coming twelve months, with arrivals expected to approach pre-pandemic levels this year.

Flight booking figures unveiled during a recent Destination France event in Chantilly, north of Paris, were celebrated by attendees at the tourism fair.

The President and CEO of WTTC, Julia Simpson lauded French efforts for focusing on the economic and cultural value that travel and tourism brings to the economy, especially in terms of job creation and contribution to GDP.

Tourism returning to pre-pandemic levels

Tourism industry observers have attributed France’s success to positive and effective collaboration between the private sector, government, and regional authorities in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Analysis shows that international arrivals in France for the first half of 2024 are at 93 percent of the same period in 2019, solidifying France’s dominant position as the world’s most popular destination.

The latest surge in arrivals is also providing a much-needed boost to the sector, which at its peak contributed some €220 billion to France’s national economy and supported some 2.7 million jobs, both directly and indirectly.

The WTTC has also commended what it calls “the unwavering efforts of the government” and President Macron’s recognition of the sector’s real value. 

Research indicates that airlines are responding to the growing demand, which was highlighted during Paris’ successful hosting of the 2023 Rugby World Cup and the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

The rise in passenger capacity is led by Orly Airport, south of Paris, experiencing a 28 percent increase, while Charles de Gaulle remains the busiest airport in France, with up to 18.5 million passengers expected to come through its gates in the first six months of 2024 – just 3 percent below 2019 levels.

Employment opportunities

While Paris continues to be the world’s most popular city destination, other French cities, including Nice, are gaining in popularity, with the Côte d’Azur capital expected to reach 94 percent of pre-pandemic international arrivals. 

Additionally, travellers to France are spending more money in the country, with premium cabin bookings witnessing a 21 percent surge compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Over the next decade, France’s travel and tourism sector to set grow by an average of 3 percent per year, creating an estimated 555,000 jobs, averaging at nearly 56,000 new jobs every year. 

That represents a staggering 3.3 million employees in the tourism sector by 2033. 

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