France did better than its European neighbors in 2021 according to the latest Atout France business climate report. The differences between the numbers regarding tourism in France compared with 2019 have been narrowing month by month.
Atout France's latest economic report assesses the tourism economy in 2021. Although not all the indicators are green, the organization notes slow recovery inactivity and certain signs of recovery provide some reason for optimism.
For example, in terms of international revenues, France remains the European leader ahead of Spain and Italy. Cumulatively over the first 11 months of 2021, international tourism receipts amounted to €31.4bn, compared to €26bn in Spain and €20.6bn in Italy. The difference from 2019 is -40.4% in France, compared to -61.4% in Spain and -50.9% in Italy, reflecting a better resilience of tourism in France.
Moreover, even if the pre-crisis level has not yet been regained, the gap with 2019 is narrowing month by month: -35.5% in July 2021 vs. July 2019, -25.4% over September, -16.5% over October, -10.3% over November. On the demand side, domestic tourism has been the sector's lifeline for France.
The volume of commercial tourist nights for domestic customers is up by 12.6% compared to 2020 (cumulative over the first 11 months) and down by only -7.5% compared to 2019. Compared to 2020, all destinations have seen an increase in domestic overnight stays, with the exception of mountain areas due to the closure of the ski slopes.
The outlook of Paris seems also a bit brighter. For the months of April and March 2022, projections point to a 540.8% increase in international arrivals. Not enough to catch up with 2019 levels (-48.6%), but the trend is positive. As for air capacity, the 2019 levels have been almost reached (-17.2%) with an increase of 255.6% compared to 2021.
In terms of types of lodging, the hotel industry in France posted a less favorable result given its greater dependence on international customers and business travel. The French hotel industry ended the year with a 43% decline in revenue per available room (RevPar) compared to 2019, according to the MKG Consulting report. However, it should be noted that France was the most resilient European country (63% decline in RevPar in Germany, 72% in the Netherlands, 77% in the Czech Republic).