Coronavirus: impact on the tourism industry in France - statistics & facts

The tourism sector has shown resilience in the face of many major events such as geopolitical conflicts, natural disasters, and epidemics. Whether this will be the case in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic remains to be seen. In 2020, travel restrictions and containment measures to control the spread of the virus led to a drastic decrease in global tourism. As a result, global revenue from the travel and tourism industry in that year was estimated to drop from a forecasted 711.94 billion U.S. dollars to 568.6 billion U.S. dollars. Meanwhile, when looking at a ranking of countries with the highest tourism revenue loss due to COVID-19, France, one of the top tourist destinations in the world, suffered the third highest tourism loss worldwide after the United States and Spain.

Impact of COVID-19 on tourism businesses in France

Many establishments in the French tourism industry had to close their doors to the public for extended periods of time in 2020. This resulted in a significant reduction in staff and many companies were forced to cut back on employees. The number of job offers in the tourism sector in France therefore declined in 2020, with seasonal jobs being especially affected by the pandemic. Meanwhile, the accommodation sector in France was faced with an almost complete absence of international and business tourism. The overnight stays in accommodation establishments in France were predominantly made up of domestic tourists in 2020.

Food and drink services in France were also strongly affected by the health crisis in 2020. Some establishments adapted and added takeout or delivery options for customers. However, not all businesses were able to do this. The share of French restaurants providing takeout services were in the minority, with only one-third adopting this measure in 2020. The resulting restaurant industry revenue loss in France was significant, amounting to roughly 20 billion euros between January and August 2020.

Impact of COVID-19 on tourism consumption in France

Due to the uncertain nature of COVID-19 travel regulations and border closures, caution over booking vacations in advance in France rose in 2021. However, there were still those in France who considered going on holiday outside of the country’s borders, with the leading summer holiday destinations of the French in 2021 being bordering European countries, such as Spain or Italy. Meanwhile, when looking at the main ways French travelers decided on a summer vacation destination in 2021, “cleanliness of the accommodation” was cited as the most crucial factor.

The desire to go to restaurants during the pandemic has also not completely disappeared in France. A December 2020 survey on French behavior towards restaurants revealed that 59 percent of respondents would potentially continue to go to restaurants in winter, even in enclosed spaces. Additionally, new restaurant services added in the wake of the pandemic were well received, with more than half of the French being in favor of a permanent implementation of digital menus and smartphone payments at restaurants in 2021.


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