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France still ‘tourism world champion’ as sector soars

France is on track to stay “champion of the world in tourism”, the government has said, as it confirms that the tourism industry grew in the first half of 2018 and had a record 2017, after two tough years.

Almost 89 million tourists visited the country in 2017 - a record high after two bad years following the terrorism attacks of 2015.

Tourism in 2017 and the first half of 2018 has thrived even despite numerous strikes, people staying home to watch the football World Cup, and unpredictable weather early in the year, the foreign office said.

From January to June this year, hospitality occupation rates were at 75% on average - a rise of 1.5% compared to the first six months of 2017 - according to a study of tourism offices, hoteliers and restaurateurs.

Figures suggest that the holiday habits of the French public are changing too, with families taking more frequent but shorter breaks, later in the season.

Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, foreign secretary, said: “France had a record year in 2017, and I think that we are on track to stay champions of the world in tourism this year.

“The summer season is strengthening, and we have seen [people taking] later and later breaks, as the French public’s habits are changing. They are holidaying for less time, but more often. The season is starting later, but lasting longer, into weekends in September and even October.”

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