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Regional tourism is now priority to stop overload

Tourism in France is set for another record year with the target of 90 million foreign visitors on course to be beaten but popular spots are now in danger of becoming overcrowded.

In response the government wants to encourage tourists to opt for lesser-known destinations in the regions rather than Paris.

Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne says Paris does not suffer yet from “excessive” numbers of tourists, as Venice and Barcelona do, but that it could happen if they do not plan ahead.

Certain attractions are already under pressure. The Eiffel Tower has reached its limits in terms of numbers and the Louvre can no longer meet the demand for certain exhibitions. The Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy is also crowded at times.

France is the world’s top tourist destination and is aiming for 100 million foreign tourists by 2020. This figure does not take into account French people who holiday within France.

After a drop following the terrorist attacks in 2015, Paris in particular bounced back. It recorded a record 17.1 million hotel bookings in the first six months of this year. Americans were the most numerous foreign visitors, followed by British, Germans and Chinese. Meanwhile, holiday bookings in France for the end of the year are up, especially for Japanese and Italians (25% and 20%) and they are also up 10% for Indians, Chinese and Brazilians.

Mr Lemoyne said however they do not just want “figures for the sake of figures”, and “sustainable tourism” is a new priority.

Sources close to the government stressed to Connexion that no sites are currently considered to be saturated, however Paris, Versailles and the South-East in places such as Nice are in demand particularly as they are so well known abroad.

The source said: “We want tourists to know that there are lots of other places where you can go to be near the sea, to enjoy heritage or go for walks, skiing etc. The regions need to do more to promote their territories and the state will be encouraging the local authorities. One way could also be creating new air links, with direct flights from foreign cities to our regional ones.”

Bordeaux, Toulouse and Nantes are among those said to have expressed interest.

Regions have been given a greater voice as several now have representatives on the board of Atout France, the state body which promotes France as a tourist destination.

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