Tourist numbers in France drop in 2016 on lacklustre Europe, Asia visits

The final figures released by France’s Direction Générale des Entreprises (DGE) showed a predicted dip in the number of tourists to visit France in 2016, with numbers down 1.9 million to 82.6 million. However, the 2.2% decline has not dethroned the European nation from its top spot as the most visited country in the world. 


The drop in numbers came largely from Europe (-3.8 %) and Asia (-6%), only to be compensated by an increase in tourists from America (+14.4%) and Africa (10.8 %). Despite the incredible drop in numbers from Japan, down 39.7% to 400,000 visitors, the biggest blow came from Europe; the number of continental visitors falling to 64.5 million, making up just 78.1% of total numbers to France last year.

The leading country for French visitors, the United Kingdom, fell to 11.9 million or a 2.4% decline, followed by Germany with 11.4 million visitors (-0.8%), and the Belgium/Luxembourg zone with 10.7 million (-0,8 %). However, the largest drop came from Italy, down to 6.7 million (-11.4 %), and The Netherlands, falling to 4.1 million (-18.5%); the two countries proving to be the biggest contributors to the annual visitor drop.

Chinese tourists, privileged targets for luxury brands and department stores, also witnessed a weighty drop of 8.7% to 2 million visitors. A market just as coveted — Middle Eastern tourists, also saw a 7.4% in numbers to 1.3 million. In the eyes of the DGE, however, these numbers must be seen in the light of a longer-term evolution for French tourism.

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