In 2015 France was officially named the world’s most visited destination, but there were concerns that they would be unable to retain that title after the difficult events of 2016. Fears around security, the European migrant crisis and the lingering effects of the attacks in Nice and Paris meant that tourism was expected to drop significantly on the previous year.
However, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation – or the UNWTO – has confirmed that France remained the world’s most popular tourist destination in 2016, with visitor numbers only dropping a remarkable 2.2%, despite security concerns and the words of Donald Trump, who called the city of Paris ‘out of control’.
Official figures released by the UNWTO show that 82.6m international tourists visited France last year, putting them way ahead of the United States, who were in second place with just over 75m visitors. This is of course welcome news for a country that makes around 40bn Euros per year from the tourist industry, with many small businesses and independent workers financially reliant on the sector.
Even more good news for France is that the regional travel authority CRT has said that visits to the capital Paris are at a ten-year high for the first half of 2017, and the French Foreign Ministry has confirmed that numbers are back up to the pre-2016 levels, with a record-breaking 88m tourists expected to have visited France by the end of this year.
So why is France such a popular destination for international tourists? Different people will have different answers, but for me it’s the sheer versatility of the country as a holiday destination, with more to do and see than any other country in Europe. It boasts everything from sun-drenched beaches to cosmopolitan cities, from historic castles to picturesque rural retreats. Add to that some of the best food and drink in the world, and globally famous landmarks and museums such as the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower, and it’s not hard to see why France remains at the top of the global tourism tree.