French tourism gets boost from foreign nouveux riches


PARIS — French tourism received a boost last month from fellow Europeans and the nouveau riche of the world’s emerging economic powerhouses drawn to the glamorous destinations of Paris and the Riviera, tourism experts said Saturday.

Europeans grappling with a weak euro currency stayed close to home in July and accounted for an increase of between five to 10 percent in visitors to France, said Didier Arino, head of the Protourisme agency.

For Europeans from fellow eurozone countries like France, dealing with weaker purchasing power and austerity measures to combat ballooning public debt, “they decided to go somewhere close (to home) and for the Germans, Belgians and Dutch, nearby is France,” Arino said.

French tourism also benefited from the attraction of France’s capital, the City of Lights, and its jet-set resorts on the Mediterranean coast for “a good number of clients, notably from the emerging countries…. Paris and the Riviera remain dream destinations for many of the nouveau riche,” Arino said.

France’s hotel occupancy in July increased by an average of 2.4 percent to 72.1 percent compared with the same period last year, the MKG Group said.

The average room price increased by seven percent and revenue per available room was up 10.6 percent, it added.

“The categories which contributed the most to the (hotel) price gains are the four stars and the (luxury) palaces,” said Vanguelis Panayotis, director of development at the MKG Group.

Four-star hotel occupation rose 7.7 points to 79 percent and revenue per available room climbed 22.3 percent.

In the Parisian palace-like luxury hotels, occupancy was up 5.3 points to 90.5 percent and revenue per available room rose 19.5 percent.

However, other types of accommodation were in decline, namely “vacation rentals, resort villages and tourism residences… places which are basically frequented by French clients,” said Arino.

He added that it seemed the French this holiday season were looking for much cheaper lodgings — namely staying with friends and relatives for free.