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French summer tourist season looks promising after ‘excellent’ winter

One large hotel group has said summer reservations are up 37% on this time in 2019

France’s tourism industry is set to enjoy a successful summer this year Pic: RossHelen / Shutterstock

French hoteliers and tourism professionals are looking forward to a successful summer after a positive ski season.  

Read more: No Britons, no problem: French ski resorts report successful season

Ski resort visitor numbers returned to normal after two years of Covid restrictions, the Observatoire National des Stations de Montagne reports in its initial statement on the past winter. 

Mountain destinations were affected by a lack of British clientele, who were effectively banned from visiting when France imposed tighter travel restrictions on the UK after the emergence of Omicron. However, these tourists were replaced by French holidaymakers. 

The Pyrenees and Isère saw record winter seasons with visitor numbers 10% and 20% higher than usual, Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said during a press conference this week, adding that this is an “excellent” performance.

Read more: Bookings at French ski resorts exceed pre-pandemic levels

The first tourist figures for April are also showing a promising trend, and director of hotel and tourism advisory body MKG Consulting, Vanguelis Panayotis, told BFMTV that: “Our customers from neighbouring countries are coming back, as well as Americans. 

“When you go walking through the streets of the capital, you hear all different languages being spoken, so that is a good sign. Easter has been a good period.” 

Mr Lemoyne said that: “We are seeing a recovery, including in the areas where it had been held back: big cities.”

Occupancy rates in tourist accommodation were at 91% in Paris over Easter, 3.7% higher than in 2019. 

A successful summer ahead 

This welcome trend is expected to continue into the summer. European hotel and restaurant group Logis has said that its summer reservations are currently up 37% on the same time in 2019.

“With a strong domestic base, to which we can add international clients, the season will be very lively,” Mr Lemoyne said. “Preparations will need to be made.” 

Mr Lemoyne said that he did not think the absence of Russian holiday makers would affect the French tourism industry too severely, stating: “We counted 600,000 Russian arrivals [for holidays] in 2019. That’s 0.5% of all international customers.

“We have the means to find visitors elsewhere,” he added. 

The short and medium-haul aviation sector is also set to finally reach normal levels of activity once again this summer, while long-haul traffic is predicted to get to 85-90% of pre-pandemic circulation, according to the Fédération nationale de l’aviation et de ses métiers (FNAM).

Between May and July, the number of international arrivals by air is expected to surge by 585% when compared to the same period in 2021.

This is partly because France is once again the number one European destination for Americans, Belgians, Italians and Spanish people.

Campsite reservations are currently up 24% on 2019, with Jérôme Mercier, director general of campings.com telling Le Parisien that his affiliated businesses are seeing an 80% increase in reservations when compared to last year.

However, the effects of Europe’s high inflation rates are also making themselves known, with a higher proportion (17%) of summer holidaymakers opting to book in the week of July 9 than in that of August 6, which is normally the busiest and therefore the most expensive. 

Three star campsites are also proving more popular than those with four or five stars.

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