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France is back, in a BIG way

Have you been considering France as your next vacation? Good news: after a two-year slump, the country is open to foreign visitors, tourism is up, and the government is thrilled.

The Tourism Minister reported that tourism in the summer of 2022 was exceptional, with 70% of French residents vacationing within the country, and the return of throngs of foreigners. According to Reuters, credit card spending and hotel revenues are up 10 and 22%, respectively, from pre-pandemic 2019.

In 2019, France was the most visited country in the world, with nearly 90 million foreign visitors. In a press conference, the Minister said the government wants France to hold onto that title, aiming for 100 million foreign tourists.

On August 1, France officially ended all Covid restrictions for international travelers – no more tests, proof of vaccine or Covid-10 recovery, or compelling reason to visit.

All is not wine and roses, however.

During the pandemic, as French citizens fled the cities for the countryside and national parks, some small villages were overrun with traffic, trash, and noise. Many parks were damaged, with flora and fauna destroyed by the crowds.

With the sudden surge in tourism this summer, the situation worsened. Now some cities and villages are taking steps to put the brakes on by imposing limits on numbers of visitors to their most popular attractions. Marseille, for example, dropped the daily quota for Calanques National Park from 3,000 a day to 500. The island of Corsica is requiring advance reservations and limiting visitors to its most popular sites. Paris has also been trying to cope with the welcome yet troublesome swell.

Tourist boards have begun collaborating with the navigation app Waze to provide alternative suggestions when visitors request directions to busy sites. It’s working – 28,000 people chose the alternative according to a recent report.

More good news: France is now allowing travelers from the US to use eGates for fast-track entry at designated entry points, seven international airports, and four international train stations.

Bottom line: France welcomes you to visit, with patience, respect, and understanding. Now, more than ever, is the time to work with a trusted travel advisor and local tourist bureaus to plan and reserve that special trip.

Call me for a free consultation.

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