Paris expects increase in numbers of American tourists

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Paris tourism officials say they expect an increase in numbers of American tourists as the U.S. economy improves.

The Paris tourism office said Thursday that it expects U.S. visitor numbers to rise in the second half of 2010 — although there’s a lot of catching up to do.

While Americans remain the City of Light’s most frequent foreign visitors, their numbers were down by more than 40 percent from a decade ago. In the first half of this year, U.S. visitors were down by 3.4 percent compared to the same period in 2009.

An increase in visitors from the Middle East, China and Africa is helping fill the gap.

Globally, the Paris tourism office expects a 6 percent increase in overnight stays this year, compared to a 4 percent drop in 2009.