In a recent study completed by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, France has come out on top as the world’s favourite holiday destination. A huge 83-million people visited the country in 2012. That’s 17 million more than actually live there. The country is a popular destination for tour operated holidays such as those on offer from Newmarket Holidays. (Mastercard have also produced estimated figures for the most popular capital cities in the last year. In these, Bangkok ranked first followed closely by London).
The country’s success is largely due to three factors: to the southeast lie the ski resorts on the Alps, the south of the country enjoys warm temperatures for most of the year, and the capital city – Paris – is popular with romantics. This combination has ensured that France has remained the world leader for every year in which statistics have been produced by the UN.
Despite the large volume of visitors, many of whom come from Britain taking advantage of good-value tours from companies like Newmarket Holidays, not a lot of money is spent in the country. France’s GDP owes seven per cent to the tourism industry, but the average visitor spends a total of £423 every visit. This is a long way behind the likes of the USA, where visitors making an average spend of £1230, and Macau, the Vegas of South East Asia, which boast a huge £2100 average spend.
The disparity between the number of visitors and the amount of money spent in France is largely to do with the distance the visitors have travelled. An overwhelming majority of France’s visitors are from neighbouring countries: British holidaymakers are fond of coach tours to the country with companies like Newmarket Holidays. As a result, these visitors are content to only stay for a short amount of time; the average duration is 2.7 days, often just visiting a campsite and using supermarkets for their provisions. In America, by comparison, a mere fifty-five per cent of visitors come from either Mexico or Canada, the remaining forty-five per cent are long-haul travellers. Because of the distances involved, these travellers stay for much longer periods, often more than two weeks, and as a result they drive a lot more cash into the American economy. The French tourism board however, is making the effort to organise large events such as the Olympic Games in order to convince visitors to stay a little bit longer and attract many more people.