France, a new destination for European travelers

The Covid-19 has turned global tourism upside down. Qualified as “annus horribilis” by the Banque de France in its report published on Friday July 23, 2020 will remain as a dark year for the sector. With, despite everything, a positive note: if France has also suffered, it has all the same managed to seduce European tourists forced to stay on the Old Continent.

The health crisis has brought the world to a standstill. In 2020, travel receipts fell 66%. International travel has fallen by 74%, the equivalent of 1.5 billion people. This collapse in tourism is unevenly distributed across different parts of the world. Asia-Pacific has seen its passenger rate drop by 85%. It is followed by the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas (70%), then Europe (69%).

International tourism disrupted

To protect themselves from the virus, the various governments have decided to apply strict health measures: testing, quarantine, entry ban. “The unprecedented reduction in international arrivals is mainly due to two factors: on the one hand restrictions on entry into a foreign country, on the other hand restrictions on departure. Coupled with the weak incentive resulting from the administrative closure of the main places where travelers are welcomed (hotels, restaurants, cultural and recreational venues, etc.) and mobility restrictions on site“, underlines the Banque de France.

This upheaval has redrawn the pattern of international tourism. As the monetary institution explains, “ the limitation of mobility, in particular to distant destinations, has led, in addition to a shift from international tourism to domestic tourism, to partial postponements of extra-European trips to neighboring countries ”.

Affected by this crisis, France lost 50% of travel receipts. However, the refocusing of tourists on Europe has enabled it to do well. It has increased its percentage of intra-European tourism market share. This has increased by 3 points compared to 2019. This is not the case for all EU member countries. Spain lost 1.5 points over the same period.

A health pass that favors Europe

The share of European tourists in France’s travel receipts rose from 62% in 2019 to 74% in 2020. That of foreigners outside Europe is historically low: over the July-August period, the latter only represented 14%. revenue against 31% the previous year, before the crisis.

Summer 2021: France in search of precious tourists

For the Banque de France, this recomposition of tourism in Europe is set to last. ” The progress, on a global scale, of vaccination in mid-2021 is not a sufficient condition for the reestablishment of stays outside Europe as uncertainties remain significant, in particular in developing or emerging countries due to the difficulties of implementation of national vaccination plans, but also under the effect of the resumption of the epidemic in certain areas outside Europe during the year 2021 ”.

It might even get stronger. According to the institution, “The implementation of a health pass would tend to encourage internal travel within the European Union”.


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