France remained world’s top tourist destination in 2014

Attractiveness/statistics for international tourism in France in 2014 – Statement by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development

Paris, 7 April 2015

The annual survey of visitors from abroad (EVE) on international tourism in France, carried out by the Directorate General for Business, in partnership with the Banque de France, confirms that France remains the world’s leading tourist destination in 2014. With 83.7 million visitors, this is a slight increase of 0.1% in the number of arrivals compared to 2013.

There has been a sharp upturn in visitors from distant countries (up 8.7%), which I welcome, while the mature European market has shrunk slightly (down 1.7%). The Asian market records a spectacular rise of more than 16%, indicating among other things the effectiveness of the measure to speed up the issuing of visas for Chinese visitors (“a visa in 48 hours”), decided and implemented in 2014 (visas issued to Chinese visitors in 2014 up 61%).

Positive fact: the total number of nights stayed increased 2% in 2014. So the average length of stay continues to grow, which should increase the tourism industry’s revenue.

In its calculation of the number of nights stayed, the EVE survey includes data on traditional commercial, non-traditional commercial (B&Bs, privately rented accommodation, substantially up) and non-commercial accommodation (friends, family, second homes). The first figures published by INSEE [French national institute for statistical and economic studies], which showed a slight drop at the end of February, included only nights booked with those offering traditional commercial accommodation (hotels, camp sites, holiday villages, etc.). So the scope of the EVE survey reflects the new, growing trends in the tourism sector.

The figures from the beginning of 2015 are also encouraging. Tourist visa applications have risen sharply, particularly for India and China, where applications increased 38% and 65% respectively over the first two months.

These positive results encourage us to continue the significant efforts made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development in 2014, in conjunction with the relevant ministries, to implement the measures I announced on 19 June last year at the close of the [major national] Tourism Conference, in particular:

- the simplification of procedures for tourists: speeding up the issuing of visas for several categories of foreign visitors, and ending compulsory prior booking in commercial accommodation for visa applications;

- improved information and hospitality for tourists when they arrive on French soil: welcome SMS messages for Chinese tourists, free wi-fi in Paris airports, the imminent creation of a fixed taxi rate and a dedicated traffic lane between Paris and the airports, the imminent opening of shops on Sundays and in the evenings in certain districts, and heightened security at tourist sites;

- a higher profile for our offer of tourism destinations, to highlight our regions more effectively (geographical destination contracts);

- a regulation on simplification in tourism published at the end of March and built upon in April with new regulatory measures.

These efforts will be stepped up in the coming months in order to take international competition into account and capture a growing tourism market. The work of the Tourism Promotion Council, which I chair, will identify potential improvements in hospitality, investment in the hotel business, digital technology, Overseas France and other areas. Proposals will be made to strengthen the French offer in the area of cruises. Finally, special attention will be given to preparing the major sporting and cultural events our country is going to host, particularly Euro 2016./.

Published on 20/04/2015

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