This year France is welcoming a record number of tourists. Long queues in front of some of France's most iconic attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the medieval castle at Carcassonne, are now the norm. The tourism industry is struggling to cope with the large number of visitors, urging tourists to make their bookings online up to three months in advance. For owners of buy-to-let property this is going to be a bumper year.
For many years now France has been the most popular tourist destination in the world. The country's tourism industry saw a downturn in 2015 and 2016, following terror attacks in Nice and Paris, but is now experiencing an unprecedented surge in visitor numbers, after a charm offensive and increased promotion. The tourism industry accounts for almost 10% of the country's GDP, providing around three million people with jobs.
Tourism chiefs are worried that there may simply be too many tourist arriving now because, similar to what happened in parts of Spain, locals are voicing their concerns over such large numbers of visitors. Traditional systems dealing with the issue of tickets at tourist attractions for example simply cannot cope with the long queues.
With more than 90 million tourists expeted this year, France is likely to see 100 million visitors by 2020. Last year, already 89 million tourists visited France. It was a record number, according to the Foreign Ministry, which looks after the tourism portfolio.
Overnight stays amounted to 132.7 million, an incrase of 6.8% from 2016, according to the Ministry. Some 32.9% of these visitors originated from Russia and 22.1% from Japan. France's outstanding contribution to world heritage sites, the country's cuisine and culture are the main reasons cited for the high number of visitors coming to France every year.
Many regions of France are still relatively undiscovered, offering investors in French property opportunities to buy houses that are suitable as holiday homes. Normandy for example is still affordable in many parts.