Foreign tourists brought in a record of 58 billion euros to France in 2022, according to figures released by the French Tourism Development Agency, Atout France. International tourism receipts in France were up by 1.2 billion euros at the end of December 2022 compared to their 2019 level, the agency reported. “This result is explained by the return of European and American customers but also by inflation, which increases the revenue in value.”
In terms of revenue from international tourism, France remains ahead of Spain, though Madrid accumulated 64.8 billion euros at the end of November, 2022. Among the foreign customers who spent the most in France in 2022 are nationals of three border countries: Belgium with 7.3 billion euros, Germany with 6.5 billion and the United Kingdom with 6.2 billion. The United States is in fifth place with 5.6 billion in cumulative spending in 2022, according to data from Atout France.
In 2022, air traffic was still down 31% compared to 2019, mainly due to the weakness of flows from Asia. China has since reopened the borders for its nationals, and other distant markets such as India, South Korea or Australia are showing signs of growth in the coming months.
The flow of travelers from Asia is still very low, although it increased slightly at the end of the year.Atout France
Another aspect worth noting is that local tourism has gradually returned to positive numbers throughout the year. The rate of departure of the French for trips in metropolitan France is 23%, over the whole year, a rate close to the reference situation in 2019 with overnight stays down only 5%.
After a positive trend during the Christmas vacations and ski resort areas, despite an initial weak or even absent snowfall, Atout France looks forward to the first quarter of 2023 with some optimism, despite a challenging outlook due to inflation and the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Early this year, France was set to be the most visited country in the world, according to GlobalData, which estimates that the country will attract 93.7 million international travelers by 2025. The analytics company specified that the forecast would place the country ahead of competitor, Spain, which overtook France in 2021.
According GlobalData’s ‘Tourism Destination Market Insight: Western Europe (2022)’, France held the title of most visited country in the world prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, welcoming 88.1 million visitors in 2019. It was, however, overtaken by Spain in 2021.
Having attracted 66.6 million international visitors in 2022, France is now set to re-claim the title, with the number of international arrivals expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.1% between 2022 and 2025.
Alongside Italy and Spain, France represents a significant segment of the growth in Western Europe, GlobalData reports. The country is not only popular with travelers from Europe itself—especially the UK, Germany and Belgium—but it is also popular with visitors from further afield, including China and the United States.
“One key transportation project in Western Europe is the Ultra Rapid Train line, which is being planned by the European Commission to improve connectivity between Lisbon in Portugal and Helsinki in Finland,” said Hannah Free, Travel & Tourism Analyst at GlobalData. “The program involves the construction of an 8,000km double track high-speed railway network between Lisbon and Helsinki with a loop around the Baltic Sea. The rail line will pass through, Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, and Finland.”