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France - Tourism

Brexit, Yellow Vests dampen France's tourism forecast

The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower JOAQUIN SARMIENTO / AFP

France’s ambition of welcoming 100 million foreign visitors in 2020 has been pushed back two years, with the government saying Yellow Vest protests and Brexit have pushed the target out of reach.

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In a budget document posted online, the French finance ministry said: "France still aims to have 100 million foreign tourists, nonetheless the goal has been pushed back, given current circumstances, to 2022."

Figures from 2019 suggest a decline in foreign tourism, with the number of overnight stays in hotels and hostels across France falling by 2.5 percent in the first quarter.

The document said this trend can be largely explained by nationwide social movements at the beginning of the year, which impacted reservations.

Brexit connection

The weakening of the British pound against the euro as a result of Brexit is said to be another factor, given the UK offers France its “biggest source of tourists".

Nevertheless France posted a new record last year when it welcomed nearly 90 million foreign tourists – despite sometimes violent anti-government protests that prompted many visitors to delay their trips.

The country remains the world's top tourist destination, with numbers climbing by 3 percent in 2018 from a year earlier.

While Europeans still make up the bulk of foreign tourists to France, national statistics agency Insee showed the biggest increase came from Asian visitors.

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