Summer doldrums for French tourism didn't show

26th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 26 (AFP) - French tourism operators have reported a better-than-expected summer season for the world's favourite tourist destination, industry groups said Friday.

PARIS, Aug 26 (AFP) - French tourism operators have reported a better-than-expected summer season for the world's favourite tourist destination, industry groups said Friday.

The 2005 season was an improvement on 2004, thanks largely to the loyalty of Belgians and Scandinavians, and a return of North American and Asian visitors.

The trend surprised many hoteliers and restaurateurs who in July expressed gloom about their prospects amid rocketing fuel prices, a moribund national economy and a trend towards people taking shorter holidays.

"The pessimism that was de rigueur at the end of July was tempered by a good first half in August that was in line with the results of the previous year," said the UMIH hotel and restaurant union.

The increase in foreign visitors, particularly to Paris and Mediterranean regions helped offset the trend among the French to save money by spending their holidays with friends and relatives, said national tourism body Odit-France.

About 75 million foreign tourists a year visit the country.

"As of mid-August, the 2005 season overall, which had been seen very much as average, is nevertheless considered a bit better than 2004," the organisation said.

"If favourable weather conditions in September are added to the August recovery, 2005 should be better than 2004, although not at the level of 2003."

But while tourists flocked to France's sun-soaked southern resorts this year, the northern regions of Brittany, Normandy as well as the Alps had a poorer season than in 2004.

"A good level of Belgian visitors has been observed and to a lesser extent Scandinavians and Spaniards," the tourism body added.

Although the number of German visitors to France continued to fall, there was a surge in visitors from North America and Asia, particularly to the national capital and the country's southeast.

Odit-France's director-general Christian Mantei said the summer tourist season was growing longer, running from spring to autumn, and tourists tended to take shorter holidays.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, tourism, Odit-France

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