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This Country Will Become the Most Visited on the Planet in 2025

The European nation is on track to draw 93.7 million travelers annually.

From the romance of the Parisian streets and the charm of Normandy’s coastal towns to the prestige of Bordeaux’s châteaus, the thrill of the Alps’ slopes, and the sophistication of the French Riveria, the allure of France is undeniable. So it’s no surprise that it’s on track to become the most visited country by 2025, when 93.7 million international travelers will enter the country annually, according to new data from GlobalData.

While Spain had edged out its neighbor in 2021, France is on track to reclaim the title it had long held before the pandemic with a 12.1 percent compound annual growth in visitation between 2022 and 2025, the data analytics company said. (Spain’s growth is expected to rise to 89.5 million by 2025.)

“Visitation to France and Spain will remain strong in the years to come, with festivals, culture, and gastronomy being a big pull for tourists,” GlobalData travel and tourism analyst Hannah Free said. “Both countries have a lot to offer visitors, with their own unique cultures, cuisines, and atmospheres. Both countries are also relatively large, with a diverse and varied landscape, and each country has its own unique coastline.”

Indeed it’s that wide range of offerings that makes the country so coveted for both first-timers and return visitors. “France as a destination offers something for everyone—history, city, sea, mountains, beaches, gastronomy, wine country,” Gail Boisclair of Perfectly Paris says. “This country has everything!”

The news is no surprise to the country itself, since President Emmanuel Macron introduced the Destination France Plan in 2021 to lock the European nation in as a global tourism leader.  “With the Destination France Plan, the French Government intends to set an actual road map for the development and transformation of the tourism sector over the next 10 years,” Anne-Laure Tuncer, director of the country’s tourism board Atout France USA says, noting a particular emphasis on a goal toward being the top sustainable destination by 2030. “France is investing heavily in innovation, attracting new talents in the hospitality industry, and providing the training to best welcome these visitors, especially with the Rugby World Cup taking place this fall and the Summer Olympic Games in 2024.”

The commitment toward pushing forward the tourism infrastructure can already be seen, Tuncer says, citing hotels like Le Grand Contrôle on the Château de Versailles grounds, the recently opened Anantara Plaza Hotel in Nice, and the eco-friendly Les Sources de Cheverny and the palace-turned-resort Fleur de Loire in the Loire Valley.

Thoughtfully developed cultural sites have also made their debut, such as the renovated 18th century palace Hôtel de la Marine in Paris, the prehistoric underground cave Grotte Cosquer in Marseille, or the epicurean wonderland of La Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin in Dijon. A new kind of destination experience—La Vallée de la Gastronomie—features three regions banding together to focus on a gastronomic journey. Even the iconic French baguette received a UNESCO designation last year.

Part of the increase comes from the diversified interests. “American visitors are willing to give up a bit of their time from Paris to venture outside of our capital city,” Tuncer adds, noting the Bordeaux region, Alsace, Burgundy, and Loire Valley, as favorites on the mainland, as well Martinique and Guadeloupe Islands in the French Caribbean.

Two French cities have even been called out for their “smart” approach to tourism, being named European Capitals of Smart Tourism by the European Commission. In 2019, Lyon, the 2,000-year-old city at the convergence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, received the honors, hailed for its accessibility with a completely adaptive public transportation network and museums offering adaptive tours. Its airport is one of a handful that is carbon neutral, and its gastronomical flair is rooted in a mysterious Chef Factory school that churns out world-class chefs and a Bouchons Lyonnais designation.

Just last year, Bordeaux was granted the title, lauded for its wine region’s innovation, seen at wineries like Chateau Paloumey, a fully organic operation that’s been testing new methods of growing rows of trees in its vineyards, and its wine storytelling at the interactive museum, La Cite Du Vin. But Bordeaux has proven itself to be so much more than wine, especially on the sustainability front. The city’s four-line tram system is made up of cars that are 98 percent recyclable, a massive old submarine base has been upcycled into the world’s largest projection art museum at Les Bassins des Lumières, and the Darwin Ecosystem is a unique mixed-use community that only allows businesses with a green-first mentality, including a skate park, organic dining hall, bakery, and even the world’s first recycling and repair store for sustainable shoe company Veja.

With unorthodox and unique offerings with an eye to the future, visitors keep clamoring for a French immersion—and even the country’s leading airline is already prepping for the growth. “In 2023, we will have increased capacity 15 percent over the last five years and 5 percent on 2022, offering 5.3 million seats between the U.S. and France,” Air France Senior Vice President of North America Eric Caron says. They’re also continuing to invest in the fleet to the U.S. market, having launched new routes last year from Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, and Newark Liberty International. The carrier is also prepping for the rollout of a new Business Class cabin from New York City’s JFK International Airport later this month.

The increased accessibility will help foster the growth as the country continues to lead by example not just by opening its doors, but by luring guests in mindfully. “The goal is also to become the leading destination for sustainable travel, by making French tourism a sector that promotes excellence, growth, and employment, based on a more qualitative, sustainable, and resilient model, in line with the new expectations of French and international clients, particularly in terms of ecological transition,” Tuncer says.

Via Conde Nast Traveler

Joyce Rey
Joyce Rey
Joyce Rey

Joyce Rey is one of the most respected names in luxury real estate worldwide, having represented some of the most significant properties in the world.



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