France eyes 50mn foreign tourists in 2021

France hopes to see 50 million foreign holidaymakers in 2021, a 43 per cent increase from last year, thanks to a rebound in the European markets, Minister of State for Tourism Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said.

“This year, we hope to welcome 50 million foreign tourists, against 35 million last year and 90 million in 2019. The summer is therefore a bearer of hope,” Xinhua news agency quoted Lemoyne as saying to the French newspaper, Le Journal de Dimanche on Sunday.

Tourist arrivals from European countries, notably Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, have started, except from the UK which has imposed a 14-day isolation period on people returning from France, he added.

He also noted a tepid recovery of the American market while Asian tourists won’t be back until next year.

Calling the coronavirus pandemic “the permanent unexpected”, the Minister pledged a “territorialised response” to an eventual epidemic wave, stressing that the health pass, a certificate which proves that the holder is vaccinated or tests negative for Covid-19, is a key tool to fight the disease while avoiding braking measures.

France has been the most visited country in the world before the pandemic struck, with nearly 90 million foreign tourists each year.

Last year it lost about two-thirds of tourist arrivals and what the tourism sector generated went down by 41 per cent from 2019 to 89 billion euros ($106 billion).

The tourism industry accounts for around 8 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product and creates about 2 million direct and indirect jobs.