Terror and floods have cost Paris a million visitors this year—though Americans are the least deterred

A new normal.
A new normal.
Image: Reuters/Pascal Rossignol
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

The French tourism industry has had a pretty terrible year.

There were a million fewer visitors (link in French) in Paris alone between January and June compared with the same period last year, according to the tourism board for the Île-de-France region that includes the French capital. The drop in tourists amounts to €750 million ($844 million) in lost revenue.

Terror attacks have turned people off what was one of the world’s most popular tourist destination. Just seven months after the attacks in Paris last November, which was Europe’s worst terror attack in 10 years, France was plunged into another state of mourning when a man plowed through a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, killing more than 80 people.

France has declared national mourning just eight times since the beginning of the 20th century—but three of those have been in the last 18 months.

But there a number of strikes, and a once-in-a-generation flood, have also hit Paris hard.

France is heavily dependent on tourism as it accounts for 7% of its GDP. In Île-de-France, the tourism industry employs around 500,000 people. ”It’s time to realize that the tourism sector is going through an industrial disaster,” Frederic Valletoux, the head of the Paris region tourist board, said in a statement (link in French).

The tourism board also reported a notable drop of tourists in famous Parisian landmarks, such as the Arc de Triomphe (-34.8%), the Great Hall (-43.9%), and the Versailles estate (-16.3%).

The tourists haven’t been cancelling in equal numbers. The French tourist board saw a 46.2% decline in Japanese visitors compared with the same period in 2015. There was a 35% decline in Russian visitors and a 19.6% decline in Chinese visitors. France hosting the European soccer championships failed to have much of an impact.

But American tourists were less fazed by France’s political and environmental turmoil. While the number of Americans visiting France also dropped, the decline was by just 5.7%.

France isn’t likely to remain down for long. In a recent report, Deloitte notes that tourists are becoming increasingly resilient to terrorism. In the last few years, the time it takes for takes for hotel occupancy rates to recover after terrorist attacks has reduced.