IN NUMBERS: How important are American tourists to France?

The Local France
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IN NUMBERS: How important are American tourists to France?
Will American tourists be back in France soon? Photo: AFP

The news that American tourists may not be allowed back to France once the EU begins opening its borders on July 1st will have come as a blow to many travellers - but what does it mean for France's tourism industry?


All non-essential travel into France from outside Europe has been banned during the coronavirus pandemic, but from July 1st the European Commission is looking at a phased reopening of the borders for non-European travel.

But the Commission will be taking into account each country's health situation and a leaked early draft of the country list suggests that the USA - which is still reporting high numbers of cases - will remain on the banned list while travellers from countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand will be allowed in.

The EU's plan is only a recommendation and the final decision rests with each country, which means that France has a difficult balance to strike between health concerns and the needs of its tourist industry.


Here's a look at the role that American tourists play in France.


Tourism plays a big part in the French economy, with 9.7 percent of GDP coming from tourism of all types. Of that income - 30 percent comes from international visitors and 70 percent from domestic tourism. Staycations are a big thing in France, with many French people opting to spend their summers by the French coastline or in the countryside. It is expected that this year this will be even higher than normal with health fears about travel.


2.9 million

Jobs are supported by tourism of all kinds in France.

4.8 million

Million Americans arrived in France in 2019, a 6.3 percent increase on the previous year. In total in 2019, France welcomed 90 million international visitors - 79 percent of whom were Europeans - making it a record year for visitors, despite fears that 'yellow vest' protests would lead to tourists staying away.


France is the second most popular European destination for Americans, just pipped to the post by Italy.


Département number 75 - more usually known as Paris - is the number one destination for American visitors but the stunning coastline of the Côte d'Azur is also popular as are the cities of Bordeaux and Lyon.


For many Americans a short trip is not enough and latest data from French national statistics body INSEE shows 31,000 Americans registered for permanent residency in France. The real number of Americans living here is much higher, however - probably nearer 100,000 including students, posted workers and people on extended stays.


Americans are the third biggest international tourist group in France after visitors from the EU (which for this data still includes the UK) and Switzerland.


The average budget for an American on a trip to Europe is $1,978 (€1,749) of which 27 percent is for accommodation (hotels in 63 percent of cases), 20 percent for the flight, and 17 percent for food and beverages.



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[email protected] 2020/06/27 19:13
The 20% of the $1978 total used for the flight seems very, very low. That must be a one way fare. I would say that double that amount 40%, would be a more reasonable. This is also true for the food. It may be reasonable for a one-week trip, but, $48 per day does not get you very far with French restaurants.
[email protected] 2020/06/25 07:56
Why isn't the UK on the same list as America?

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