French tourism boosted by visitors from Middle East
|Saturday, 06 September 2008|
Visitors from the Middle East have boosted tourism numbers in France this year as visitors from other nations declined because of the economic downturn.
France is the world’s most visited country and has a vast property rental industry but government officials have indicated that this summer has been a good year despite the credit crunch.
Initial indications are that holidaymakers have been very price conscious this year and that they have chosen to rent apartments, villas and gites rather than opt for more expensive hotels. Areas served by low cost airlines have seen activity increase.
Although figures have not yet been published Herve Novelli, a minister in the tourist department, said all the indications point to France being immune to the global slowdown.
The tourism sector generates 6.3% of gross domestic product in France and is regarded as a key indicator for other key sectors like property.
Weakness in the dollar meant fewer US visitors in July and August and the number of Japanese also fell, Novelli said.
There were also fewer Chinese visitors but this was put down to the Olympic effect with fewer Chinese travelling abroad because of the Games.
‘This decline has been compensated by an increase in the numbers of foreign tourists with a strong ability to spend from the Middle East or from Russia,’ he said.