Travel to France in 2023: what’s new?


In the first 2 years since the outbreak of COVID-19, countries have been going above and beyond to attract tourists back to their shores, some having achieved much more success than others. It’s been a long road to recovery, but many destinations have sprung back into action with considerable flair, and are now experiencing vastly increased visitor rates than they’ve seen over the last couple of years. Some have specific schemes and projects to draw tourists back in, and there are some ingenious ways that they’re going about the whole process. For example, France was once one of the the most visited countries in the world and is now trying to reclaim top honors once more with exciting prospects on the horizon including the Rugby World Cup and the ETIAS France release.

Here is a look at everything you can expect from the French tourism industry in 2023:

France battles for “most visited” title

France wore the crown as the most visited country in the world in 2019, welcoming more than 88 million tourists. Spain then overtook France in 2021 but France had an incredible recovery in 2022 seeing more than 66 million people coming through its borders.

GlobalData expects France’s incoming tourism to grow by around 12% annually between 2022 and 2025. Meanwhile, The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), a British non-profit, named Paris as the most powerful tourism city in the world. This ranking is not only based on the number of tourists but is also influenced by their spending, investments made into the city, historical significance, and media presence. They found that the massive investments for the Rugby World Cup 2023, Olympics 2024, and Paralympics 2024 along with the €35 billion revenue put Paris firmly in front of the runner-up, Beijing.

Tourist in Paris with camera

Tourists are steadily returning to France

The French Way

The France Tourism Development Agency, Atout France, has launched a campaign to try and build more momentum in its European and American markets. The campaign is labeled “The French Way” and according to Meeting Media Group, it harnesses a selection of immersive content and video, alongside through-provoking visual content to shine a spotlight on France’s ideals as a forward-thinking and courageous destination.

The campaign also focuses heavily on marketing France as a business tourism destination and showcasing the diversity of the French landscape. Caroline Leboucher, CEO of Atout France, said: “Business tourism is essential for France. Following two difficult years, business is on the up and we are delighted about it!”. She mentioned that there will be multiple large-scale events staged during the next couple of years to put the country firmly back on the world stage. They will prove that France is a worthy destination for travel with superior infrastructure, arts and culture to enjoy.

The Fishmongers District, Colmar

The cultural town of Colmar

Rugby World Cup expectations

From 8 September to 28 October, the eyes of the rugby world will be on France as 48 matches make up the 10th Rugby World Cup. The 10 host cities gearing up for matches are Lille, Saint-Etienne, Lyon, Nice, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes, Paris, and Saint-Denis.

An astonishing 2.5 million tickets have been sold and France is set to welcome 600,000 spectators and almost 700 players. The French tourism sector is aiming to immerse visitors in the French way of life and introduce them to the best gastronomical offerings, stunning landscapes, and a rich cultural heritage.

Tourism trends in France for 2023

The tourism trends in 2022 showed a major increase in the popularity of camping, theme parks, and outdoor events. Trends for 2023, however, remain uncertain due to the rising cost of resources and raw materials, fuel, and energy, and the hospitality industry continues to struggle to fill seasonal positions.

It was also found that typical Parisian attractions like the Louvre and Versailles sold almost 20% fewer tickets than in previous years, presumably due to source markets in Asia being slow to return. The French Embassy in Beijing confirmed that COVID testing regulations for Chinese travelers have been abolished along with random screening upon arrival, in the hopes of boosting tourism numbers.

Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles in France

Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles

The accommodation industry is also struggling to compete with AirBnb and camping with revenue down almost 4.5% due to the increased cost of raw materials. Room rates have increased by an estimated 14% which has had a negative effect on hotel room occupation.

Travel disruptions

The ongoing cost of living crisis has sparked dozens of sectors to strike and most recently the transportation sector in France was brought to a grinding halt. President Emmanuel Macron announced plans to raise the national retirement age to 64 and unions over several sectors committed to strikes early in February.

Eurostar shut down ticket sales between London and Paris as a precautionary measure and 20% of the flights from Paris Orly were cancelled. Local and regional trains were also affected and only 30% of the high-speed TGV trains remained in operation. Unions have warned that they will continue to take similar action if their objections are not heard. Travelers are advised to refer to the transport operator’s official websites ahead of booking tickets to ensure that there are no planned actions.

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