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More international tourists than ever in 2022

Travel was the order of the day in 2022, much to the delight of the tourism industry. Two years of deprivation have prompted travellers to embark on new adventures as soon as possible, whether in their own country or far beyond their borders. Europe in particular was the epicentre of this tourism recovery, with millions of tourists welcomed throughout the year.

France has experienced a strong upsurge in tourism activity as demonstrated by the amount of tourist tax paid to French communes in 2022. Indeed, Airbnb paid over €148 million in tourist tax to more than 23,000 French communes on behalf of hosts in 2022, an amount that is 60% higher than in 2021.

While almost 30% of the tax collected comes from rural destinations, proving the growing attractiveness of the countryside, the rest comes from the major French cities with more than €24.3 million for Paris, more than €2.8 million for Marseille and more than €2.4 million for Nice. These areas have benefited from the return of international travellers and major events.

Among the most popular French regions in 2022, Brittany is at the top of the ranking. The year 2022 is now considered as an exceptional year for tourism in the region, with visitor numbers 6% higher than before the crisis. A recovery that began during the spring holidays, among other things, but which took a real turn from mid-July onwards.

In fact, tourist overnight stays in the heart of the season will exceed 2019 levels by 10%, with a notable return of international customers. This trend continues and even increases in September with a 15% increase in visitor numbers compared to 2019. The All Saints' Day and Christmas holidays are just as good in terms of visitor numbers, recording growth of 13% and 6% respectively.

Christmas holidays have benefited to all the French territories as ADN Tourisme underlines. The number of visitors is thus on the increase for 3 destinations out of 5 during this period. The period even went "better than expected" for a third of the destinations. On the whole, the frequentation was more sustained in the second week than in the first. The mountains, the preferred sector in terms of bookings at this time of year, nevertheless suffered from the lack of snow.

However, the destinations were able to adapt and thus limit the cancellation of bookings thanks to a remarkable capacity to adapt. The rail strikes also had an impact on French holidaymakers during these weeks. The French attendance for the 2022/23 Christmas holidays is on the rise, both compared to Christmas 2021 and to Christmas 2019, as is the European attendance.

As expected from the booking rates, the Christmas holidays are ending on a very satisfactory note. More than 60% of our French destinations are up compared to the 2021-2022 holidays. The professionals have been able to adapt their offers to the expectations of holidaymakers, whether in the mountains, in the countryside or on the coast. An excellent surprise: the cities have seen an unexpected increase this year. Indeed, more than 86% of urban destinations are up this year. As throughout 2022, the new reference year, the French have shown their need to rest, to change air and to live experiences that are out of the everyday. With major events such as the Rugby World Cup and a very favourable calendar of public holidays, 2023 should also keep its promises. 

François de Canson, President of ADN Tourisme

The attractiveness of the Christmas period is confirmed by the city of Strasbourg, which attracted more than 2.8 million visitors to its famous Christmas market, a record number according to the city hall. Attendance is thus up by 30% compared to 2021 and by 10% compared to 2019. Among the phenomena that can explain these "excellent figures", a "renewed confidence in the event" and "in the relationship with the pandemic", to which is added "a desire for reassuring, convivial events", according to Joël Steffen, President of the Strasbourg Tourist Office.

On the other side of the Rhine, our German neighbours also went on holiday last year despite inflation and economic uncertainty. However, according to current figures from the Federal Statistical Office, German tourism is still lagging behind its pre-crisis level. International tourism, especially cross-border tourism, is also lagging behind in 2019.

On the other hand, Munich airport has regained two-thirds of its passenger traffic in 2022, with a total of more than 31.5 million passengers. The Bavarian capital's airport saw its traffic jump by 153.2%, or 19 million more passengers between 2021 and 2022. The number of aircraft movements has almost doubled compared to 2021 to more than 285,000 take-offs and landings. The seat occupancy rate on flights in Munich equalled the record figure of 77.5% in 2018. 

The gradual lifting of travel restrictions, which has reawakened people's desire for travel. This has prompted airlines to significantly increase their flight capacity. Bookings received by airlines indicate that traffic growth at Munich Airport will continue in 2023. 

Jost Lammers, CEO of Munich Airport

Good performance was also seen last year in the UK, notably due to the Queen's Platinum Jubilee last June and her death a few months later. In addition, UK hotel operator transactions were around 30% below the five-year average. The war in Ukraine, combined with global economic uncertainty and domestic political unrest, is not fully supporting the recovery of investment in the sector but it is not stopping it.

Nevertheless, according to Henry Jackson, partner and head of hotel operator agency at Knight Frank, "operationally, the sector has continued to recover and a pick-up in investment levels for 2023 is expected. We have seen a pick-up in investor activity in late 2022 and buyers who are proactively looking for opportunities now are well placed to act quickly when new stock becomes available. Investors are showing renewed signs of confidence in the London hotel operator market, and overseas buyers are taking advantage of the currency play. Once the economic situation becomes clearer and debt availability recalibrates, we expect transactional activity during 2023 to rebound at a stronger pace, exceeding 2022 levels."

More exotic destinations such as the Dominican Republic also outperformed in 2022. The island even had a record year in 2022 with 8.5 million visitors, exceeding pre-pandemic figures. This is 3.2 million more than in 2021, when the industry was starting to get back on its feet. But it is also better than the 7.5 million tourists in 2019 and the 3 million visitors in 2020. This was helped by the return of tourists from the United States, Canada and Colombia.

These figures were achieved in the worst of circumstances, in a hostile international environment. Not only have we been able to withstand the impact of Covid-19 and the effects of the economic crisis resulting from the war in Ukraine, but we have managed to position our country on a more competitive map throughout the Caribbean and Latin American region. 

Luis Abinader, President of the Dominican Ministry of Tourism

In another sign of the recovery of international tourism, the number of visitors to Macau on Saturday 14 January 2023 exceeded 55,000, the highest number of daily arrivals since the start of the pandemic. An increase in travel in the run-up to the festive season, starting on 21 January, promises a boost to the destination's tourism-based economy.

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