French tourism industry celebrates unexpectedly successful summer

Nine in every 10 French holidaymakers opted for domestic trips this year, with many looking to disconnect in rural or coastal areas

27 August 2021

Four in every 10 trips have been to France’s coastal destinations, one of which (Cannes) is shown here Pic: RossHelen / Shutterstock

By Emma Morgan

The French tourist industry has enjoyed a successful summer season despite the challenges of Covid-19 with people living in France opting for domestic holidays over foreign trips. 

Nine in every 10 French holidaymakers spent their summer break in France this year, and hotel owners have announced a 47% increase in takings in comparison to summer 2020.

Bookings have even overtaken 2019 numbers in some branches of the hospitality industry with director of Gîtes de France, Solange Escure, reporting on BFMTV a reservation rate of 73% this July, up from 59% two years ago.  

“We have seen longer stays, as well as an extended holiday period,” she said. “[People] need to get away for a while, to really relax. 

“Our holiday lets correspond with holidaymakers’ desire to spend time in a natural, peaceful environment, to rest while discovering our landscapes, our local cultures and gastronomy.”

Quieter areas with fewer people have indeed proved attractive for people in France this year, 58% of whom opted for “more remote” destinations, and 30% of whom chose to stay in the countryside according to new figures from tourism federation, ADN Tourisme.

Four in every ten French holiday trips took place in coastal destinations this summer, with 22% of holidaymakers visiting the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region. 

This August, hotels in this area have been reporting an 8.7% takings increase when compared to the same period in 2019, according to Franceinfo.

The south’s most popular holiday destinations include Montpellier and Marseille, whose hotel turnover is up 20% on 2019 figures. 

However, with people looking to make the most of France’s natural environments, the summer boom in tourist numbers has not manifested so obviously in big cities. 

Compared to the summer of 2019, Paris hotel takings are down 56%, with those in Strasbourg down 40%.

Has the French health pass affected reservations?

The gradual implementation of the French health pass (pass sanitaire) requirement over July and August had provoked concerns that customers would be put off visiting the campsites, hotels and restaurants where it must be shown. 

However, Nicolas Dayod, president of the national federation for outdoor accommodation, told Franceinfo today that “the health pass has gone very well in our establishments,” with few cancellations being made as a result of the obligation.

“It has allowed us to limit the risk of contamination and cluster infections in campsites, which has reassured guests and prevented site closures.”

He added that this had been a “very good” summer for outdoor accommodation, especially seeing as it is a highly “Covid compatible” way of going on holiday. 

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