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Whoa. Paris shows us how it's done.

PARIS, FRANCE – For the first time ever, Greater Paris exceeded 23 million hotel arrivals (23.6 million–an increase of 11% on 2016 and 5% on 2014). The total number of visitors to Greater Paris, all accommodation combined, exceeded a record 40 million tourists, according to our estimates. Foreign markets and business tourism are the main driving forces behind these healthy results

The destination’s above global average growth (6.2% according to the WTO) has mainly been boosted by foreign visitors with a 15% increase in arrivals to 12 million and an 8% spike in French visitors to 11.5 million. This explains the destination’s rapid recovery after a downward trend in 2016 - something not seen for more than a decade.

Business tourism is a factor in this increase: accounting for 50.8% of the total number of overnight stays, business nights increased by 8.2%. Reflecting the economic upswing, the sector made a significant contribution, as in 2016, to visitor numbers.

Leisure customers began to recover well in the second half of the year.

Record growth in foreign markets

The destination’s leading foreign market, the United States of America, enjoyed rapid growth, with a 19% increase in hotel arrivals, exceeding the 2 million arrivals mark for the first time since 2000.

European markets are making a remarkable comeback, with Germany returning to the levels of the early 2010s thanks to a strong 21% growth in hotel arrivals. The Netherlands (up 1.4%), Spain (up 7%) and Switzerland also recorded increases, returning to visitor levels last seen in 2014/2015.

China (up 20%) climbed to fourth place among outbound markets for Paris. At this rate, Chinese visitors could well reach the one million mark in Greater Paris within one to two years.

Among the most promising markets, other Asian countries (excluding China and Japan) saw exponential growth of 18.9% on 2016 and 61.4% on 2014. India, Indonesia and South Korea are driving growth in this area to unprecedented levels. Australia is also recovering, as are the Middle East, which continue to experience significant growth.

Finally, countries in the Americas, excluding the USA, are reporting healthy growth due in particular to an improved economic situation. Hotel arrivals by tourists from this area increased by 20.1% on 2016 and 27.4% on 2014.

Only Russia, Japan and Italy, despite impressive growth rates (51% rise for Russia), failed to return to 2014 levels.

The United Kingdom, the second market for Paris, hit by the devaluation of the pound, began to recover in the second half of the year.

This strong recovery is due in particular to actions taken under the Greater Paris Recovery Plan launched in autumn 2016 by the City of Paris and the French government with the Ile-de-France Region.

Although initiated in 2016, these actions were stepped up in 2017 with multiple operations targeted at priority markets. Throughout the year, the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, in collaboration with Atout France, developed campaigns aimed at the general public--billboards and digital--in the United Kingdom and Germany in particular, but also in other nearby European markets, organised large-scale themed press events for around 350 foreign journalists, and expanded its qualified actions targeted at professionals and in the business tourism sector. All segments were addressed, conveying a new positive and innovative image of the destination. 

Optimistic outlook for the future

The structuring of the accommodation offering augurs well for the future. Growth in hotel occupancy received a particular boost from the inner suburbs with 14.3% additional arrivals complementing the Paris intramuros offering.

While the occupancy rate of hotels in Greater Paris in 2017 was 75%, figures for early 2018 are promising, with a 3% cumulative increase in hotel occupancy rates in January and February. The most recent data is also encouraging.

Pierre Schapira, President of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that "during the first quarter, airline bookings to Paris increased by 17.6% - among the highest growth rates of any European city*".

“The actions taken under the Recovery Plan to promote Greater Paris as a destination, combined with more favourable economic conditions, have put Paris back in the spotlight. The very recent ‘TripAdvisor Best Destination in the World’ award for Paris recognises the efforts made by tourism professionals and suggests that we should expect good results in the months to come," continued Pierre Schapira.

*Source: Forwardkeys

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