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Travel in France





Strikes, flooding: hard times for tourism in France

The Euro Cup starts on Friday


Rédigé par C.E. translated by Joséphine Foucher le Jeudi 9 Juin 2016

A few days from the kick off of the Football Euro 2016, tourism professionals hope that the series of misfortunes will finally stop. After the November attacks, the strikes, and bad weather among other things… they are counting on a competition with no incident to show the world that France remains a welcoming country.



“Schematically speaking, Paris and its associated touristic sites (Château de la Loire, Mont-Saint-Michel…) are dropping in visitor rate in late 2015 and early 2016, while the remainder of France is not affected,” explains Christian Mantéi, Executive Director of Atout France. Photo : Zerophoto-Fotolia.com
“Schematically speaking, Paris and its associated touristic sites (Château de la Loire, Mont-Saint-Michel…) are dropping in visitor rate in late 2015 and early 2016, while the remainder of France is not affected,” explains Christian Mantéi, Executive Director of Atout France. Photo : Zerophoto-Fotolia.com
Tourism in France is plagued.

After the terrorist attacks of November 13, 2015 in Paris, and those in Brussels in March 22, 2016, today, the sector is faced with a series of bad news.

Gloomy weather, flooding, strikes and an uninspiring economic situation. Add the recent declarations of the American State Department warning that the threat of terrorism remains very high in Europe.

Yet, the year didn’t start off so badly, if we consider INSEE figures. In the first semester of 2016, in metropolitan France, the visitor rate in collective touristic accommodations, defined in overnight stays, has increased: +1 % compared to the same period of 2015, after plummeting in the fourth semester (-1.8%), attributable to the November attacks.

“The visitor rate is once again increasing thanks to the French clientele. The overnight stays of foreign clients keep on dropping (-2.7%), but clearly less than in the preceding semester, where it had collapsed (-8.7%),” specifies INSEE.

Paris is more impacted

Yet, there are disparities depending on the regions.

“Schematically speaking, Paris and its associated touristic sites (Château de la Loire, Mont-Saint-Michel…) are dropping in visitor rate in late 2015 and early 2016, while the remainder of France is not affected,” explains Christian Mantéi, Executive Director of Atout France.

“Today, due to the current events and the declaration of the American State Department, we do not know how things will evolve,” he adds.

Michel Madi, CEO of Frenchy Travel, reports a drop of 10 to 20% in Paris. However, he notices more reluctance from the French than foreigners: “TOs who buy trips on France are not canceling, they ask questions, however, the French who travel in France are canceling, worried about the consequences of the strikes.”

With the thousands of passengers expected for the Football Euro Cup, he hopes that the situation will evolve favorably.

Frédéric Avierinos, General Director of Vedettes de Paris, who had to stop his activity due to the Seine overflow is not very optimistic: “The French clientele from the province is not coming, while it represents the primary clientele of the capital.

Finally, the strikes and the overflow add to the damage. 2016 will be a terrible year. Decreases stand somewhere between 20 and 50% depending on the line of business. Let’s hope that the summer will be fruitful to make up for the shortfall.”


The cleaning of the shores and riverbank roads has begun in Paris. The operations of Vedettes de Paris and other operators on the Seine could resume on Saturday.

Drop of foreign visitors in Ile de France

Another conundrum for tourism professionals: the state of emergency.

“This impacts the image of France, states Jean-Pierre Mas, President of Travel Companies. The social climate is also detrimental, we look like an instable and unsafe country in the eyes of others, in which a handful of unionists make the rules.”

“The social movements and scenes of guerrillas in the middle of Paris broadcasted all over the world are reinforcing this feeling of fear and misconception of visitors, in a context that is already alarming after the extension of the state of emergency,” adds the Tourism Regional Committee of Paris - Ile de France.

Based on figures published by the CRT, the visitor rate of Japanese tourists is dropping by -56%, Italians by -24%, Russians by -35% and now the Chinese by -13.9%, on the 1st semester of 2016.

“And the Americans who were starting to come back are once again turning their back on Europe,” observes Serge Cachan, Vice-President of AhTop (Representative association accommodation players and of professional tourism in France) and hoteliers in Paris (Astotel, 16 three and four star hotels.)

In late May and early June 2016, it records a brutal stop in reservations. And the Football Euro will not break records.

At the Plaza Athénée, the occupancy rate will not be above 60% in June, when it usually reaches 90 to 95%, declared François Delahaye, General Director, on BFMTV. He expects a monthly turnover of 5 to 6 million euros instead of 10.

What about the Euro?

“June, that is usually a good month for French hoteliers, is falling behind. For June 10th, day of the opening match of the Euro, my facilities are recording 67% in occupancy rate, and July 10th, the day of the finale we are at 47%… which is not great,” specifies Serge Cachan.

Christian Mantéi admits that on this type of event “there is always a foreclosure effect of the traditional clientele,” before adding that “the Euro should attract 1.5 million visitors who came especially for the event.”

While it may be hard to make ambitious plans, Serge Cachan is counting on the Football Euro to restore the reputation of the destination.

“A Football Euro with no incident could give a breath of fresh air. The success of this event will be a major element to revive the confidence of international visitors,”
he adds conclusively.

Locatour: this will be a last minute summer

To date, Locatour, expert in Camping and vacation rental, reports a 6% increase of its sales.

“We recorded a great start on the first 4 months of the year, then a collapse in the last 3 weeks, but we are confident, we know that it will take off again,” specifies Magali Degorre, Production Director at Locatour.

The tour-operator specialized in France recorded a steep rise with its sales doubling compared to the same period last year.

The popular regions on Locatour are Languedoc-Roussillon, Aquitaine, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and Loire Country. The mountain and Poitou-Charente, on their end, are showing wonderful performances with respectively +40% and +30%.

“The strikes, the flooding and the bad weather… These are all parameters that stalled reservations. Considering the context, we are rather satisfied, even though the results are well below our initial projections. We noticed that clients are searching and the market will wake up, this will be a last minute summer,” she adds.



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