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France remains the leading tourist destination worldwide, with more than 84.5 million international arrivals in 2015. However, the country ranks fourth in terms of international tourism revenues (or 41.4 billion euros in 2015). This reflects the fact that many tourists counted among arrivals are only in transit during their stay in France. Tourism nonetheless remains a major sector for the French economy: it accounts for more than 7% of France’s GDP and provides more than one million direct jobs.
Domestic clientele continues to dominate in terms of overnight stays with nearly two-thirds of the total number across the country, although the weight of international visitors has been rapidly rising for several years. European tourists constitute the majority of foreign nights, with around one quarter of total overnights, although the United Kingdom, the leading source market supply in France, witnessed a 24.6% drop in overnights between 2007 and 2015, while USA overnights grew by 12.9% over the same period. Asian clientele also represents a significant share of this total (5.2 % of overnights in 2015, versus 3.2% in 2007) especially considering their concentration in a small number of destinations (Paris, Côte d’Azur, wine-producing region, etc.). The rise of long-haul clientele (from Asia and emerging countries) represents a major opportunity to develop tourism and improve its organization across French territory. In order for France to retain its position as the leading international tourist destination and enhance tourist spending, more tourists should be attracted and encouraged to stay longer in the country. Better communications promoting attractions in the provinces are necessary to make French regions stand out alongside Paris and Ile-de-France, and to a lesser extent the French Riviera.
It should also be mentioned that while if they are very important in the leisure tourism segment, the Ile-de-France and the PACA regions also have a strong presence in the business tourism sector. The International Congress and Convention Association ranked Paris as the leading MICE destination in Europe, before Madrid and Vienna.
As of January 1, 2017, France’s hotel supply represents 18,547 hotels, totaling 677,373 rooms. The country thus ranks 4th among European countries in terms of hotel supply.
The average size of independent hotels corresponds to European standards. On the other hand, the average size of chain hotels in France (75 rooms in 2017) remains significantly smaller than the European average due to the important share of the economy supply. Chain hotels have an average capacity about three times higher than independent hotels (75 rooms versus 25 rooms).