Despite competition from London, Paris still number one with tourists

Paris kept its place as the world’s top tourist destination, city council officials announced on Tuesday.

Despite competition from London, Paris still number one with tourists

Paris kept its place as the world’s top tourist destination, city council officials announced on Tuesday. But it all depends on what you mean by Paris and how you define the French capital’s main rival, London.

The number of tourists visiting Paris rose two percent in 2013 to 29.3 million, the city council’s tourism chief, Jean-François Martins, announced with pride on Tuesday.

That’s a lot fewer than the 35 million that London reported but, Martins pointed out, that was for greater London, at 1,500km² a much larger area than the city of Paris.

During this year’s local election campaign, the right-wing candidate for mayor, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, claimed that London had overtaken the City of Light for the first time in 2013.

So, for the sake of “pertinence”, tourism officials have produced figures for Greater Paris, which includes three adjoining departments, pointing out that many tourists stay in hotels outside the city limits.

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That boosts the figure to 47 million visitors, of whom 16.6 million are foreigners, a little lower than London’s 16.8 million.

The Paris figures do not include visits to the Versailles château (7.5 million) and Disneyland (14.9 million), officials point out, although many of those visitors may have been staying in the capital.

Economic crisis led to a fall in visits by French nationals, as well as Spaniards, Italians, Dutch and Japanese.

But the number of Chinese rose 27 percent, north Americans 15.3 percent, Australians 15.5 percent and Middle Easterners 20.7 percent and figures for January and February this year indicated that the Spaniards, Japanese and Italians were returning.

All that in spite the fact that the average price of a hotel room is now 171.80 euros a night, a rise of 1.9 percent.

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