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Internal tourism consumption in France was stable in 2016. It totalled €158.9 billion, i.e. 7.13% of GDP. Two thirds of this consumption was by French tourists, with the remaining one-third by non-resident tourists. Following a decline in foreign tourist arrivals due to the terrorist attacks in November 2015 and July 2016, consumption by foreign tourists slid by 3.0%. This reduction was offset by consumption by French tourists, which rose 1.4%. Hotels, non-urban transport (apart from coaches, which posted sharp growth in activity in 2016) and fuel were the items that saw the sharpest declines in expenditure. Conversely, spending for peer-to-peer rentals, restaurants and cafés, as well as cultural, sport and leisure services grew in 2016.

In 2016, 73.1% of French people took at least one trip for personal reasons. Both the departure rate and the average number of trips per traveller (4.6) were lower than in 2015, translating to a decline in the total number of trips (-2.0%). As the average duration of stays remained virtually unchanged (5.7 days), the number of overnight stays also declined (-1.8%), although there was an increase in the number of overnight stays outside France. The annual results were significantly affected by a highly unfavourable late-spring season particularly in continental France, due to both meteorological conditions and social unrest. The number of overnight stays in non-market accommodations fell, while it rose for commercial tourist accommodations (+1.9%), especially outside France (+5.3%). Spending on personal travel totalled €72.4 billion, of which €45.8 billion in continental France. This overall rise (+1.8%) masks sharply higher spending on travel outside France (+6.3%) including a slight drop-off (-0.7%) on stays in France. Transport  expenditure decreased, but spending devoted to packages, accommodations and food/drink were on the rise.

The business outlook for France’s intermediate-sized enterprises (ETIs) has continued to improve in 2017. For the second year running, ETIs are more optimistic regarding sales growth in France than sales growth abroad. On the whole, they reported better results in 2016 and greater expectations for 2017 than the previous year, in terms of business activity, employment, order books, investment, and cash position. The 2016 indicators for industrial ETIs seem to show an upswing, after a mixed performance in 2015. The only area remaining negative is export sales, but forecasts are encouraging for 2017. To fund investments, ETIs are increasingly replacing internally generated funds by bank credit, but lending growth is expected to slow in 2017. The overwhelming majority of ETIs report continued easy access to lending, even if one-fourth regard collateral requirements as a significant barrier to borrowing from banks.

In 2016, France was again the world’s most popular tourist destination, despite a 2.2% decline in arrivals, welcoming 82.6 million foreign tourists to metropolitan France and roughly 400,000 to the overseas départements and territories.  The numbers were adversely affected by the terrorist events on 13 November 2015, and 14 July 2016, but returned to nearly the same level as previous years in Q4. The 3.8% decline in European visitors was offset by growth in arrivals  from other parts of the world. The number of Asian tourists was down only slightly from the record set in 2015, but much higher than in earlier years. U.S. visitors increased in 2016, on the strength of a stronger dollar against the euro,
and continue to provide the largest contingent from outside Europe. The average length of stays was virtually unchanged, falling by 0.4%. The number of nights thus declined by 2.7%, roughly proportionate to the decline in arrivals. The hotel sector was particularly affected by the fall in foreign visitors in 2016. Rental of accommodation in private homes is continuing to gain market share against other forms of commercial accommodation, especially among U.S. visitors.

French manufacturing output rose slightly in 2016 (up 0.3%), fuelled chiefly by the automotive, aerospace and chemical industries. France’s manufacturing trade deficit ballooned by €7.3bn amid a €4.9bn fall in the aerospace industry’s trade surplus. There was a modest drop in direct manufacturing jobs in 2016 (down 25,400, against a post-2000 annual average of 59,000 losses), while temporary employment rose sharply again. Hourly labour costs continued to grow at a slower pace than in Germany. This increase was more than offset byproductivity gains, pushing unit labour costs down by 0.4%. The margin rate of the manufacturing sector hit a post- 2002 peak last year.


Compétitivité :

The French Young Innovative Enterprise scheme (Jeune entreprise innovante - JEI) aims at supporting R&D and  innovation activities of new SMEs through tax cuts and, above all, exemptions from social contributions for highly skilled employees. In 2015, 3,500 enterprises benefited from the JEI scheme, mainly in the digital and scientific sectors. As a result of the 2014 Budget Act, which repealed the degressive rate for social security exemptions introduced in 2011 and widened the scheme to include certain types of innovation spending, the level of JEIs’ exemptions from social contributions has almost returned to its 2010 level. JEIs benefit from the scheme for an average of four years. Nearly 80% of them have fewer than 10 employees, most of them assigned to R&D activities.
Despite a certain level of financial fragility, JEIs invest and export.


In 2015, a quarter of French citizens did not travel and less than half of  them went away for at least one week in summer. People on low incomes and those without qualifications, but also the selfemployed and those living outside major agglomerations, go away less. Whether or not people go away is also frequently dictated by age and personal commitments. Young people are busy with their studies and summer jobs and the elderly often have health issues or just want to stay at home. The 25-34 age group often have young children and, although those aged between 50 and 64 are more affluent, they frequently mention that they have to look after a relative. Between 2013 and 2015, only one French citizen in four went away for more than a week each summer and more than a third did not go away during any of the three summers. Over the three-year period, the determining factors for going away were the same, with the level of income taking pole position. Differences in circumstances are most pronounced between those on high incomes and those with small salaries. Lastly, proportionally, just as many people living in French départements that have high tourist footfall go away at least once a year but they make fewer and shorter trips.

Internal tourism consumption in France rose by 0.9% in 2015, reaching €158.6 billion, or 7.3% of the country’s GDP. Although the year started off on a positive note, foreign tourist consumption was particularly hard-hit by the terrorist attacks of 13 November. As in previous years, French residents accounted for two-thirds of tourism consumption, with foreigners making up the remaining third. The increase was greatest in spending on commercial tourist accommodation, especially on campsites, as well as on non-urban transport services (airport transport in particular). The sharpest drop in spending was on fuel (due to falling oil prices) and on food and beverages (excluding restaurants).

The term “sharing economy” is used to describe the peer-to-peer swapping and sharing of goods and services, and initiatives to bypass traditional intermediaries between producers and consumers. The phenomenon has taken off in recent years, driven by widespread adoption of information and communication technologies. Travel, holiday accommodation, food, consumer goods and domestic services form the “core” of the sharing economy.

Internal tourism consumption grew 1.9% to €158.3 billion in 2014, reaching 7.4% of GDP. French tourists accounted for two thirds of this consumption, with non-resident tourists making up the remainder. Growth was higher for foreign tourists (+3.7%) than for French holidaymakers (+1.0%). Spending on cafés and restaurants posted the sharpest rise, following the increase in VAT during the year. Accommodation rentals by individuals also progressed, driven by the expansion of dedicated websites in this area. Spending on petrol fell the most, due to the drop in oil prices. The loss of market share by French carriers meant that spending on air travel also suffered.

Tourist travel is generally a good moment for cultural activities. In 2014, one French citizen out of three took advantage of holiday travel to discover a city, 13.8% visited at least one museum, exhibition, monument
or historical site, and 6.6% attended at least one cultural event (festival, concert, etc.). These percentages rose
slightly in recent years. Holidays outside of France are richer in cultural activities. Tourism is a significant vector for access to culture. Indeed over a three-year period, three-fourths of French citizens took part in a cultural activity when on holiday. For the others, either they did not go on holiday (14.3%) or they did go, but did not take part in a cultural activity (12.1%). Conversely, certain French tourists enjoy a high concentration of cultural activities. Tourists who are major «culture consumers» are most often urban-dwelling college graduates who are in a relationship. Although age is not the decisive criterion, those over 65 tend to engage in cultural activities. Young tourists are also often cultural adepts.

Internal tourism consumption grew 1.4% to €157 billion in 2013, reaching 7.4% of GDP. French tourists accounted for two-thirds of this consumption with nonresidents representing one-third. Growth was higher for foreign tourists (+2.3%) than for French holidaymakers (+1.0%). Spending on cafés and restaurants posted a sharp rise (+3.7%) while hotels remained stable. An upturn in spending on campsites, hotel-residences and furnished rentals drove up total growth in expenditure on market accommodation (+2.1%). Low-cost flights continued to make their mark on air travel as in previous years: the upsurge in volumes largely offset the cut in prices.

The renewal of developed countries’ comparative advantages has led to a promising, though modest, reshoring trend. In-depth analysis of thirty recent reshoring decisions by companies that have moved some of their operations back to France shows that these companies primarily wanted to improve logistics and product quality, and to enhance their brand image with the Made in France label. The choice of reshoring locations is a simple one. Reshored operations are very frequently moved close to an existing site. Three different economic rationales underlie reshoring decisions: selection of the best international locations for high-value-added activities, consideration of total costs after an offshoring decision based on labour costs alone, and a decision to move production upmarket, following a launch phase in a low-cost country. Companies’ reshoring decisions result from economic calculations. Reshoring is compatible with a market economy and it does not increase the cost of households’ consumption.

Designing policies to boost the tourism sector

Almost two-thirds of foreign tourists are highly satisfied with their stay in France, the world’s number one tourist destination. Tourists from the more time-honoured markets, such as Europe, Africa and North America, seem slightly more smitten with France than their Asian counterparts, for example. There are some important factors however, that, on a like-for-like basis, can have an adverse effect on tourists’ enjoyment of their stay in France. They include their experience of town visits, hotel accommodation, the summer season and short-term stays. However, those who spend above the median level when they visit France are more likely to be very pleased with their stay in the country. Unlike tourists from the more time-honoured markets, visitors from Asia, China and India, for example, are more satisfied by their first visit to France than by subsequent visits.






Key facts on tourism





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