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Paris outperforms global tourism growth in 2013

With close to 47 million tourist arrivals in 2013, including 16.6 million foreign visitors, Greater Paris shows an increase in arrivals by more than 7% of international clientele, significantly lower than the global average. The new staff in place at City Hall is renewing a Hotel Plan for the capital.

In preparation for the new territorial division, the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau presented a report for 2013 including not only performances of Paris proper, but also of Greater Paris, including the adjacent departments that are the Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-St-Denis and Val-de-Marne. In order to put an end to the fruitless controversy over the capital's global position with respect to London, Thierry Le Roy, president of the PCVB, and Nicolas Lefebvre, general manager, said the old feud over numbers and perimeters was already old, leaving Paris and its inner suburbs in the lead, without even including arrivals figures for Disneyland Paris and Château de Versailles, so they might be considered abroad as being part of the capital's tourism and cultural heritage. Cooperation between the two cities is even sought after on distant markets.

Returning to the tourist arrivals report for 2013, one figure must be considered: 46.8 million tourist arrivals across all types of accommodations (including non-commercial) in Greater Paris, of which 22.6 million hotel arrivals account for close to 50 million nights sold (15.6 million hotel arrivals in Paris proper). Twenty million nights were consumed by French visitors, close to 15 million more by Europeans, 8 million by tourists from the Americas, 6.7 million from the Asia-Pacific and close to a million nights by visitors from Africa and the Middle East.

Data highlight growth in foreign tourist arrivals by more than 7%, while average global growth is lower than 5%. Based on sales figures provided by MKG Hospitality, Paris is outperforming the worldwide trend despite economic conditions and because of its appeal to new tourism clientele.

The PCVB is satisfied about a strong return of clientele from the United States (+15.3% hotel arrivals in 2013 to reach 1.8 million), which remains the number-one supply country for the capital. The United States are closely followed by Great Britain (1.3 million hotel arrivals for +5.3% growth). Chinese tourists show the strongest growth (+27.2% increase from one year to the next) surpassing 532,000 hotel arrivals in Greater Paris. There are now only 226,000 in Paris proper as they prefer less expensive accommodations in Paris's inner suburbs to focus their spending on shopping. (See table of arrivals)

For the strong business tourism niche, the PCVB received a confirmation from the International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) that Paris was in the lead last year among worldwide destinations that host international conventions. International indicators are thus fairly well oriented but do not make up for the increasing warning signals on the domestic market. French hotel arrivals are down by 6.4% for the second consecutive year.

Jean-François Martins, the new Deputy Mayor of Paris, in charge of Tourism and Sports, indicated that the new staff at city hall led by Anne Hidalgo measured Tourism's role as a driver for the capital's economy, a measure that needs to be fed in order to perform better. He announced the forthcoming presentation of a new Paris hotel plan including the creation of 6,000 additional rooms in Paris proper in the short term and as many in the inner suburbs. "A bit of creativity will be necessary considering the lack of real estate, particularly in terms of more generally promoting mixed projects associating accommodations, shops, and social and cultural equipment," indicated the Deputy Mayor.

He also sketched the City's position regarding the development of alternative commercial accommodations, like AirBnB. "We must deal with this reality and we will not fight the Internet. As long as these types of accommodations bring new clientele by broadening the array of prices and types of stay," remarks Jean-François Martins. "On the other hand, we want to work with these companies regarding fair practices, which include contributing to the tourism tax and supporting the battle against the destruction of rental accommodations. It can only be a complementary rental activity in a primary residence. On that note we will be unyielding."

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