News

France the top tourist destination in 2013

France the top tourist destination in 2013

VIVA LA FRANCE: With its Mediterranean beaches and skiable mountain ranges, rich architectural heritage and tourist attractions ranging from Versailles to Euro Disney, France grew even more popular last year, welcoming 2 percent more visitors than in 2012. Photo: Reuters

By Nicholas Vinocur

PARIS (Reuters) – France kept its title as the world’s top tourist destination in 2013, drawing nearly 85 million visitors despite a lackluster economic situation as Chinese interest intensified and North Americans surged back to the country.

With its Mediterranean beaches and skiable mountain ranges, rich architectural heritage and tourist attractions ranging from Versailles to Euro Disney, France grew even more popular last year, welcoming 2 percent more visitors than in 2012.

It kept its top ranking ahead of the United States, which drew 69.8 million visitors, and Spain, with 60.7 million. Indeed, if France’s tourists established their own country, it would be Europe’s most populous by a margin of several million, Bank of France data showed.

The tourism figures, which showed the number of Chinese people visiting France had shot up by 23.4 percent, and tourists from India by 15.7 percent for a total 4.5 million from Asia, brought a rare bit of good news in an otherwise grim economic landscape.

France’s unemployment rate is stuck at record highs above ten percent and economic growth data for the second-quarter, due to be unveiled on Aug. 14, is expected to show a meager expansion of 0.1 percent.

Yet tourists chose to spent a total of nearly 600 million nights in France last year, an increase of 4.6 percent compared to 2012. The average duration of their stays – 7.1 days – was 2.5 percent longer than the previous year. Government estimates put the contribution of tourism at around 6.5 percent of GDP.

Visitors from North America – whose number fell dramatically during the global financial crisis – continued to flock back, showing 5.8 percent growth over the year, to 4.2 million.

The increased from North America and emerging markets offset a slight dropoff in visits from Spain, Brazil and Japan, which the Bank of France explained as a consequence of economic troubles in those countries.

In late June, President Francois Hollande’s government had considered a sharp increase in the tourist tax to shore up government finances as it struggles to bring down a public deficit to within an EU target.

However, the planned hike was scrapped in July after virulent protests from local authorities and hotel managers, who said such an increase could kill demand at the start of the summer tourist season.

(Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Andrew Callus)

Recent Headlines

in Black Friday, Entertainment

‘Frozen’ tops Barbie as top girls’ holiday pick

Fresh
frozen

The results marked the first time in 11 years that Barbie hasn't held the No. 1 spot in the annual toy survey.

in Music

One Direction makes Billboard history

Fresh
FILE - This Nov. 26, 2013 file photo shows One Direction members, from left, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Zayn Malik and Niall Horan on ABC's "Good Morning America"in New York. A representative for One Direction says the band’s lawyers are dealing with a video showing two band members smoking what the singers referred to as an “illegal substance.” British tabloid The Daily Mail posted a five-minute clip Tuesday, May 27, 2014, of Zayn Malik smoking and speaking with Louis Tomlinson, who is filming.

The British boy band became the only group to score four consecutive No. 1 debuts on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart.

in Black Friday, Viral Videos

Jimmy Fallon’s favorite #ThanksgivingFails

13-overlay6

Think you've had a rough Thanksgiving? It could always be worse.

in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: Nov. 27

beatles

A look at some of the Hollywood headlines that made history.

in Black Friday, Entertainment

‘TIS THE SEASON: Holiday specials airing this week

Frosty the Snowman

Here's a look at Christmas classics and new holiday favorites airing this weekend.