France can be characterized in many ways: charming, romantic, idyllic, and above all, resilient. And now, there are statistics to back up the latter descriptor. Following a 1.5 million dip in visitors from 2015 to 2016 -- a decline due to recent terror attacks -- France's Ile-de-France area, which encompasses Paris, is back on top. In fact, the region is on pace to have its best year since 2008, Conde Nast Traveler reports.
According to the Regional Tourism Board of Ile-de-France, the destination welcomed 16.4 million tourists in the first half of 2017, a 10.2 percent bump from the same six-month period in 2016, Le Figaro reports.
Heightened security, the Paris Air Show, and a stimulus plan of eight million euros, which fed into the opening of a scenic, pedestrian-only walkway along the Seine as well as a new concert hall on an island in the river, are just a few of the contributing factors that led to this rise, according to French broadcaster BFMTV. It doesn’t hurt that several budget airlines have also been offering discounted flights to Europe from the U.S.
Frederic Valletoux, president of the Paris region tourist board, told Reuters that should things continue, the destination can expect to see between 32 and 34 million visitors this year — an uptick from 30 million in 2016 and 32 million in 2015.
This begs the question: Will Barcelona, which faced a terror attack earlier this August, also experience a decline in tourist numbers? “One can expect Barcelona to experience some slowdown. It took three years for New York to bounce back after the September 11 attacks, for Madrid it was a year (after the 2004 commuter train bombings) and for Paris also a year,” Valletoux said, reports Reuters.
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