With an economic weight of 1.36 billion euros, 6,100 direct jobs and 15.6 million day-passengers, river tourism in France demonstrates its drive within the tourism offer in the country.
According to Voies navigables de France, the economic benefits generated by operators' and customers' spending in the 5 sectors of river tourism (river liners, barge hotels, sightseeing boats, self-driven houseboats rentals and private pleasure craft) is estimated at 1.36 billion euros (including VAT), that represents around 50 euros in tourist spending per person per day.
As for attendance, 15.6 million day-passengers (daily visits by a person practicing river tourism) are recorded each year.
Regarding the most popular regions, the economic weight of river tourism is the most important in the Seine basin (344 million euros before VAT), in Aquitaine-Occitanie (174 million euros before VAT) and in the Grand Est (91 million euros before VAT).
Hotel Barges: 14,900 Passengers Transported
A recent study focused on the numbers related to river tourism in France. Each sector of the industry was analysed independently.
Excluding the Grand Est, Rhine and Moselle, the economic weight of river liners is 410 million euros (including VAT) for 215,000 passengers transported.
The world leader in the hotel barge market, the French industry earns 62.4 million euros (including VAT), transported 14,900 passengers in 2018 and employs 491 people. The hotel barge revenue is diversifying, from the bicycle/boat cruise to the very high-end, constituting an opportunity for rural areas. The French lifestyle remains widely popular among international customers: 90% of cruise passengers surveyed as part of this study confirmed that the offers of ocean-going ships and hotel barges were the prerequisite for their stay in France.
Sightseeing Boats: Driving Force of Attractiveness
As for sightseeing boats, in Paris, these are large capacity boats, with an economic weight of 359 million euros, including VAT.
In the provinces, the river units are smaller, but just as attractive, with an economic weight estimated at 321 million euros, including VAT. The sightseeing boats carried 11 million passengers in 2018 and employ 1,440 people.
For its part, the sector of self-driven houseboat rentals generates 110 million euros worth of economic benefit, including VAT, received 130,000 people in 2018 and employs 587 people.
The last analyzed sector, private pleasure craft, generates 62 million euros worth of expenses for navigation and 36.6 million for boat maintenance. 6.1 million km were covered in 2018 by the boaters.