France Tourism and Covid-19

  • France: a top destination

France is known to be one of the world’s leading tourist destination. In fact, it has welcomed 90 million international tourists in 2019, ranking 1st worldwide and representing 8% of its GDP, generating around €200 billion per annum for the French economy. Tourism is indeed an important part of France’s dynamic soft power abroad.

  • The pandemic: a hard hit on France

As the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world and severely impacted the tourism sector, it led to an impressive 40% drop in revenue for the year 2020, which represents a 60 billion euros loss.

Globally, Europe is the second hardest-hit region, behind the Asia-Pacific, seeing a drop in visits of 66% in the first half of the year. The drop in French and foreign tourist spending in France over 2020 is estimated at between 30% and 35%. However, France does appear to be resisting better than its European neighbors, thanks to its solid domestic market.


  • A firm reaction

Many initiatives mitigated the dire consequences of the crisis: domestic tourism, through ‘staycations’, saved last year’s summer season. A good example of is the “Cet été je visite la France” [This summer I visit France] campaign, which was very successful with over 80 business partners joining, over 20 million of videos that were viewed on various social media platforms.

European tourists, who generated 69% of last year’s revenue, now amount to 81% of the total, compensating for the drop in international arrivals from Asia.

Tourism companies have also enjoyed all the emergency measures adopted by the Government in response to the pandemic’s economic consequences:

  • Support for jobs, through the partial employment measure, which the sector has used widely;

  • Support for companies’ cash flow through the Government-guaranteed loan (PGE) and the solidarity fund, open until the end of 2020, as well as certain social contribution exemptions;

  • Cancellation of instalments of rent and fees for use of public land for SMEs, particularly during administrative closure.

  • Moreover, the recovery plan presented by the Government in early September 2020 includes the creation of a sustainable tourism fund with €50 million to foster the adaptation of tourism activities. Restaurants and tourist accommodation providers will receive financial support (grants) in order to cover the costs of investments for the transition and development of sustainable tourism projects. The French Agency for the Ecological Transition (ADEME) will be the leader for the deployment of this fund, in close liaison with local government in order to address specific needs.