French tourism lost €61 billion in 2020

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French tourism lost €61 billion in 2020
Paris suffered the most from the plunge in tourist numbers in 2020 caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: AFP

As Covid-19 put a stop to international travel in 2020, France's tourism revenues plunged by 41 percent, according to new numbers.


France is the world’s number one destination for international tourists, with almost 90 million people visiting the country in 2018. The industry makes up around 10 percent of the French economy.

But pandemic put a sudden halt to international travel, with airport and border closures around the world. 

In 2020, France's tourism sector saw its revenue plunge down from €150 billion to €89.

“2020 was a shock to the tourism industry all over the world. In France, we lost €60 million,” said French Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne in a tweet.


Of the €61billion that disappeared, €32 billion (a 52 percent drop) losses from international travel, according to Atout France, the organisation responsible for promoting France as a tourism destination.

The remaining €29 billion (a 48 percent drop) were revenues from national travel.


The country’s national tourism industry, valued at around €180 billion (or 7.4 percent of GDP), shrunk by a third.

The most affected region was Île-de-France, which lost €23.1 billion, but other regions also suffered. Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes lost €7.2 million Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur lost €6.7 billion, Occitanie €4.5 billion and Nouvelle-Aquitaine €4.1 billion.

However, despite huge losses, the country faired better than others in 2020, said Lemoyne. 

“France was more resilient than other destinations,” the tourism secretary told France 2.

“The motor of European tourism worked well last summer. We had a lot of visitors from neighbouring countries: Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands...and above all French tourists, who spent their summer and autumn in France.”

Over the summer, some regions of France were busier than expected, with many French tourists doing what was called bleu blanc rouge tourism (i.e. holidaying in France).


Paris suffered the most as holidaymakers mostly chose to go to coastal regions, where some resorts were even busier than usual, despite travel bans and quarantines.

Six months on, there is still a lot of uncertainty around holidays. The French are preparing for their winter break in February, when a lot of people like to go to the mountain regions. For now, Lemoyne has urged people not to cancel their bookings.

“I call on everyone who has already made a reservation for the holidays in February to keep it,” he told BFMTV, adding hotels and tourism businesses would allow last minute cancellations.




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