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Business travel in France - Statistics & Facts

Unlike leisure travel, business travel is a branch of the tourism industry referring to tourists who travel for business or professional purposes. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the share of the direct contribution of business travel expenditure to GDP in France amounted to 16 percent in 2020. In that year, business tourism spending of G20 countries underwent a decline due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In particular, business tourism spending in France decreased by more than half compared to the previous year, reaching 16.2 billion U.S. dollars.

COVID-19's impact on business travel in France

The global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) hit the tourism industry hard. Traveling was limited to a bare minimum to reduce the spread of the virus. As a result, many countries, including France, experienced significant business travel revenue losses in 2020. Some of this revenue loss was caused by the drastic decrease in the monthly number of business overnight stays in France. Figures hit their lowest point in April 2020, during the first lockdown, with only 800,000 nights spent in French accommodation for business or professional purposes. This represented a loss of more than three million overnight stays compared to the previous year. Even in Paris, the French capital – one of the main cities in the world hosting MICE events every year – business tourism slowed down significantly. A large number of congresses in Paris in 2020 were not possible with 160 postponed and 157 canceled.

Meetings and events in France

France is one of the leading business travel destinations in the world and came third in the list of countries worldwide ranked by number of association meetings hosted in 2019. In that year, 595 meetings were held in France. Furthermore, the total number of visitors to events in France in 2019 amounted to 76.8 million with more than half of them participating in corporate and institutional events. Meanwhile, trade shows and fairs accounted for 23 million visitors.

Organizing events is a lucrative option for exhibition centers. In 2019, exhibition centers’ self-production of events represented 45 percent of their revenue. However, hosting fairs and exhibitions is still an important revenue source, accounting for 22 percent of the revenue distribution of convention centers in France in 2019.

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