France’s tourism industry association said the Christmas holidays exceeded expectations as the economically vital sector continues to recover from the pandemic.
But while most destinations report bookings surged during the country’s two-week holiday period, the recovery remains erratic as urban areas show more momentum than mountainous areas that have been hit hard by the lack of snowfall.
“The Christmas holiday is ending with a very satisfactory result, as we expected with booking rates,” said François de Canson, President of ADN Tourisme. “As during 2022, a new reference year, the French have demonstrated that they need to rest, change the landscape and live out experiences from everyday life.”
On the positive side of the ledger, ADN Tourisme noted that more than 60% of France destinations are experiencing increased bookings compared to the 2021-2022 holidays. This was driven by cities, with 86% of urban destinations referring to increased tourism.
The industry was optimistic as we entered the winter season because a previous survey showed that 55% of French people will go on vacation for at least one of the two weeks. Still, uncertainties such as the impact of inflation and periodic gasoline shortages emerged as potential deterrents to travel.
In addition, some oddities were introduced in the holiday calendar this year, and the holidays coincided with Sundays. And then there was a nationwide transportation strike that left many train passengers stranded at home, frustrated by the canceled plans.
Some of these problems were offset by the influx of European travelers, particularly from Italy and Spain. ADN Tourisme said that in some cases visitors from other European countries have reached pre-pandemic levels.
ADN Tourisme predicts a stronger 2023 going forward, strengthened by the fact that 9 of the country’s 11 holidays fall on weekdays, creating additional opportunities for long weekend trips. In addition, France hosts the Rugby World Cup in September and October.