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How France Is Boosting The Tourism Industry With New Visa-Free Entry Policy For 92 Countries, Including Schengen Nations, USA, UK, Brazil, And Canada? – Travel And Tour World

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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

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France boosts tourism with visa-free entry for 92 countries, driving growth through Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and key airlines, enhancing leisure and business travel.

France remains one of the most accessible and appealing destinations worldwide, with travelers from 92 countries enjoying visa-free entry. This includes 28 Schengen Area countries, which benefit from mutual visa-free travel, and an additional 64 nations granted visa-free access to the Schengen zone. Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, a major hub for international flights, along with key airlines such as Air Canada, plays a pivotal role in boosting tourism in France. This influx is crucial not only for leisure and business travel but also for major meetings and events. According to a recent report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), this accessibility has significantly contributed to the ongoing growth and resilience of France’s tourism sector.

Tourism Impact in France

The tourism sector in France witnessed substantial growth, with international tourist arrivals surging by 7.3% in 2023, reaching a landmark 100 million visitors—making it the most visited country globally, ahead of Spain and the USA. However, spending by international tourists in 2022 was still about 8% lower than pre-pandemic levels in 2019, totaling €57.4 billion. Tourist arrivals to Paris and the Île-de-France region grew by approximately 8% in 2023, although they remained slightly below pre-pandemic numbers with 25.9 million domestic and 21.6 million international visitors. Notably, the number of tourists staying in Parisian hotels reached a record high of nearly 10.3 million in 2023, surpassing both the previous year’s figures and those before the pandemic.

Overview of Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport Operations

Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, managed by Groupe ADP under the Paris Aéroport brand, serves as a major hub for Air France and welcomes various legacy carriers including members from Star Alliance, Oneworld, and SkyTeam. It is also an essential base for budget airlines such as easyJet and Norse Atlantic Airways. In March 2024, the airport saw a significant influx of 5,448,552 passengers, marking a 6.6% increase from the previous year. The first quarter of 2024 was similarly robust, with a total of 15,059,671 passengers and a 5.2% growth from the same period in 2023.

Air France-KLM Group’s Financial and Operational Highlights

In 2023, Air France-KLM Group achieved a historic high in revenue, reaching €30 billion, a 15.1% rise on a constant currency basis. The operating margin improved notably to 5.7%, a gain of 1.2 percentage points year-over-year, driven by strong yield and load factors. The group also reported a net income of €934 million, an increase of €206 million. This financial improvement, along with strategic quasi-equity financing, culminated in a positive equity status of €0.5 billion. The fleet expansion saw the addition of three Boeing 787-10s, seven Airbus A350-900s, sixteen Boeing B737-800s, sixteen Airbus A220-300s, four Embraer E195-E2s, and two Embraer 190s, along with the introduction of its first Airbus A320neo and A321neo in December.

France’s Leading Position in Global Tourism Continues

According to the latest data from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and ForwardKeys, France is poised to maintain its status as the top global destination for international travelers in 2024. In the first half of the year, international arrivals reached 93% of those recorded in the same period in 2019, solidifying France’s appeal as a premier travel destination.

Job Creation and Economic Impact in the French Travel Sector

The WTTC’s forecast indicates a promising future for employment within the French Travel & Tourism sector, with an expectation to generate over 555,000 new jobs in the coming decade, averaging nearly 56,000 annually. By 2033, it is projected that nearly 3.3 million people will be employed within this industry.

Increasing Airline Capacity to Meet Demand

Airlines are significantly boosting their flight capacities to accommodate the growing global interest in traveling to France. Notably, Orly Airport has seen a remarkable 28% increase in passenger capacity, serving nearly eight million people. Charles de Gaulle Airport continues to be the busiest in France, with 18.5 million passengers in the first half of 2024, which is just slightly below the figures from 2019.

Diverse Growth in International Arrivals

France’s tourism appeal is particularly growing among Spanish and Canadian tourists, with their arrival numbers surpassing 2019 figures by 64% and 54%, respectively. Additionally, Irish and South Korean visitors have also increased, with their numbers rising by 19% and 16% from 2019 levels.

Sector-wide Economic Contributions

The surge in international arrivals has brought significant economic benefits to France. At its height, the Travel & Tourism sector contributed €220 billion to the national economy and supported approximately 2.7 million jobs across the country.

Paris as a Premier City Destination

Paris continues to dominate as a leading city destination worldwide. Recent data from CoStar, a WTTC Knowledge Partner, shows that hotel occupancy rates in Paris have exceeded 2019 levels in over half of all hotel categories during the first half of 2023, reflecting the city’s enduring allure to international visitors.

Paris Olympics

The upcoming Paris Olympics are poised to ignite a significant surge in France’s travel and tourism sector. Between 2.3 and 3.1 million unique visitors with Games tickets are expected to visit Paris during the Games, with 64 percent of them being French, according to the Paris Tourism Office. An estimated EUR 2.6 billion will be spent by tourists traveling to Paris during the Games, with or without tickets. As the world turns its attention to Paris for this monumental event, the city’s charm and cultural allure will attract a global audience of sports enthusiasts and tourists alike. The influx of visitors expected during the Olympics will not only fill hotels and restaurants but also stimulate growth in related industries such as transportation, hospitality, and retail. With iconic landmarks serving as backdrops to athletic feats, Paris will showcase its timeless appeal, further solidifying its status as a top global destination. This unprecedented spotlight promises to leave a lasting legacy, enticing visitors long after the Olympic flame has been extinguished.

Citizens of Schengen Area countries enjoy the privilege of visa-free travel among themselves, allowing for unrestricted movement across national borders within the zone. This unique arrangement fosters seamless travel, commerce, and cultural exchanges between the member countries. It eliminates the need for passport checks and border controls at their mutual borders, streamlining the process of traveling across Europe. This facilitates not only tourism but also simplifies the logistics for residents traveling for work, study, or leisure, reinforcing a sense of unity and cooperation among the participating nations.

Countries that can visit France visa free:

  • Bulgaria
  • Norway
  • Austria
  • Romania
  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • Latvia
  • Luxembourg
  • Switzerland
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Greece
  • Belgium
  • Estonia
  • Portugal
  • Malta
  • Czech Republic
  • Italy
  • Hungary
  • Germany
  • Slovenia
  • Finland
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Slovakia
  • Spain

Since France is a member of the Schengen Area, citizens from countries that have visa-free access to the Schengen Zone can enter France without a visa. This agreement allows travelers to move freely within the area for short stays, typically up to 90 days within a 180-day period. This means that if you hold a passport from a country that is part of this visa-free arrangement, you can travel to France and other Schengen countries without the need to apply for a separate visa for each country. This facilitates easier and more accessible travel across multiple European countries, enhancing cultural exchange and tourism.

List of countries that can enter Schengen zone visa free:

  • Barbados
  • Malaysia
  • Costa Rica
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Paraguay
  • Ukraine
  • Vanuatu
  • Guatemala
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Mauritius
  • Tonga
  • Macau
  • Japan
  • Israel
  • Serbia
  • Mexico
  • Singapore
  • Monaco
  • Georgia
  • Uruguay
  • Timor-Leste
  • Marshall Islands
  • New Zealand
  • Colombia
  • Peru
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Bahamas
  • United States
  • Micronesia
  • Saint Lucia
  • San Marino
  • Brazil
  • Seychelles
  • Montenegro
  • Canada
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Hong Kong
  • Grenada
  • Venezuela
  • United Kingdom
  • Albania
  • United Arab Emirates
  • North Macedonia
  • Taiwan
  • Palau
  • El Salvador
  • Kiribati
  • Argentina
  • Dominica
  • Tuvalu
  • Nicaragua
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Chile
  • Solomon Islands
  • Brunei
  • Kosovo
  • Panama
  • Honduras
  • Australia
  • South Korea
  • Moldova
  • Samoa
  • Andorra
  • Vatican City

The synergistic combination of visa-free access, robust air connectivity through Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, and strategic airline partnerships, notably with Air Canada, continues to reinforce France’s position as a top global tourism destination. These elements not only facilitate the easy inflow of tourists for leisure but also bolster the country’s appeal as a premier locale for business and event travel. As highlighted by the WTTC, France’s adept handling of tourism logistics and infrastructure development ensures its tourism industry remains vibrant and capable of welcoming millions from around the globe, fostering economic growth and cultural exchange.

The top five tourist spots in France, each offering unique attractions and experiences:

  1. Eiffel Tower (Paris)
    • Description: The iconic symbol of France, the Eiffel Tower offers breathtaking views of Paris from its various observation decks. Originally built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, it remains one of the most visited monuments in the world.
    • Activities: Visitors can ascend by elevator or stairs to the different levels, with restaurants and shops available on the first and second floors.

    2. Louvre Museum (Paris)

      • Description: The world’s largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris, the Louvre is renowned for its extensive collection of art and artifacts, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.
      • Activities: Explore thousands of works from different cultures and time periods, or join guided tours to delve deeper into the museum’s rich history.

      3. Mont Saint-Michel (Normandy)

        • Description: This medieval fortress and abbey is located on a small rocky island near Normandy’s coast. Mont Saint-Michel is famous for its dramatic tides that can isolate the island from the mainland.
        • Activities: Tour the abbey, walk the medieval walls, and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding bay.

        4. Palace of Versailles (Versailles)

          • Description: Known for its opulent architecture, stunning gardens, and the Hall of Mirrors, the Palace of Versailles was the royal residence of French kings and queens and is a symbol of the absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime.
          • Activities: Visit the palace interior, explore the vast gardens, and watch the musical fountains show.

          5. Provence (Southern France)

            • Description: Famous for its lavender fields, picturesque villages, and vibrant markets, Provence offers a quintessentially French countryside experience.
            • Activities: Drive through the lavender routes, visit local vineyards for wine tasting, and explore historic sites in Avignon and Aix-en-Provence.

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