France holds on to rank as top tourist destination


Despite a global economic monetary crisis people are still travelling. And France is still the number one destination in the world. Has been for several years running. The gap between France and her closest competition (#2 Spain) is wide and a virtual chasm exists between France and America, currently #3 on the list.

According to the French ministry of Economy, which includes tourism, France received over 80 million visitors in 2008, a huge number as well remarkable. This figure represents only a .3% decrease over 2007 figures. France must be doing something right, 80 million people can’t be wrong.

By the numbers the top three destinations are France, Spain, America, respectively. Both Spain and America receive more revenue from tourists despite the numbers. This is largely due to the way tourists and dollars are counted and a result of geography. France and Spain both enjoy shared borders and proximity to a large mobile population that is free to travel without border interference. America is geographically isolated by comparison. French officials count pass through visitors and only receipts of money spent in France. America has far fewer pass through travelers and counts things like airfare to the U.S. as part of the tourist expenditure regardless of the fact it was purchased outside the U.S.

Another factor in the disparity of spending is that persons traveling to America tend to stay longer due to the great distance traveled to get there. The result is more spending. Conversely Europe is easily crossed by train or car. Travel times are shorter thus decreasing the length of stay and the spending as well.

Ignoring efforts by the House of Representatives in 2003 to discredit France for refusing to participate in the toppling of the Iraqi government Americans continue to travel. Only during economic trials has there been a decrease. By some estimates 2008 saw a decrease of only about 2% which means that roughly 2.5 to 3 million Americans are still visiting France each year.

Accounting for 6.9% of French GDP tourism is a high priority for the government and people of France. Major campaigns to increase the perception and understanding of French attitude and culture have been highly successful according to Thierry Baudier of the French Tourism Office.

Repeat travelers make up a large portion of the American tourist camp in France. One reason for this may be the perceived equality of costs in France even with the euro standing strong against the dollar. Another may simply be that Americans as well as 78 million other people love France. Paris alone received an estimated 45 million visitors in 2008.

Judging by this it seems fair to assume that the warmth and charm of France and the City of Light have earned that #1 designation.

With beautiful coastline, amazing national parks, art, music, cheese and wine, it is easy to see why more people visit France each year than any other spot in the world.