TOURISM in Paris is booming, bucking a generally gloomy trend for the industry this year.
In many regions figures for the first half of 2012 are poor – put down to the economic crisis and poor weather; however the Paris tourist office estimates its year will end with record visitor figures, up 1.5% on last year.
This is partly thanks to more visitors from the traditional markets, attracted by favourable euro exchange rates, such as Britons (503,000 in the first half of the year; up 8%), Americans (670,000; up 15%), Japanese (251,300; up 6%) and Swiss (154,000; 24%).
Visitors from some of the emerging markets were also up strongly: China (76,000, up 15%) and Asia in general (607,000, up 12%), Latin America (283,000, up 7%) or the Middle East (140,800, up 20%). Actual numbers of Chinese visitors may be much higher than those cited due to the fact many stay outside Paris and travel in, the tourist office says.
European visitors were up 1%, at 2.2 million, though ones from crisis-hit Spain were down 22% (193,000). There were 3.6 million French visitors, down 3.2%, out of a total 7.76 million visitors.
Hotel occupation remained stable compared to last year’s record figures, at 79%, while prices were up 6.9% on average, at €164 per night.
The capital’s strengths include its famous monuments and museums – cited by 89% as a reason for visiting. It is also the world’s top destination for duty-free shopping (available from many stores on larger purchases for non-EU citizens).
The capital is investing in more hotel rooms to retain its popularity – 4,000 in the next five years, partly thanks to the conversion of offices. The tourist office also points to a raft of exciting events and openings to come, like a new zoo and reopenings of five museums in the next few years.