|Photo by Freeimages.com/joshua williams|
by Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press, April 8, 2016
PARIS (AP) — The overall number of tourists visiting France in 2015 rose marginally compared with the year before to reach an all-time high despite the two deadly attacks in Paris in January and November.
Government figures released Friday show that 84.5 million tourists visited continental France, an increase of 0.9 percent from 2014. The press office for France's ministry of foreign affairs said the latest figure "was an absolute record."
The Nov. 13 attacks in which 130 people died had a negative impact, with a drop of 15 percent in the numbers of foreign visitors traveling to Paris in the months of November and December. Before that massacre, two shooters had stormed the office of a satirical newspaper in January, killing a dozen people.
After a 1.8 percent increase over the first three quarters, there was a 3.1 percent drop at national level in the last quarter.
"The attacks that hit Paris in November have restricted this increase, particularly in the capital," French foreign affairs minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said. "My goal remains to welcome 100 million foreign tourists every year in France from 2020."
Paris tourism took a hit in the weeks following the violence. State statistics agency Insee said earlier this year that hotel occupancy in the French capital dropped by 25 percent in the two weeks that followed the attacks, compared with November 2014. Air France estimated the attacks caused 120 million euros ($130 million) in lost revenue.
But French authorities note that the country remains the world's leading tourist destination, with hotel stays going up 0.8 percent across France in 2015.
According to the latest figures, the largest increase was among tourists coming from Asia, whose numbers grew by 22.7 percent, with Chinese visitors surpassing 2 million. The number of American tourists also increased considerably, by 15.2 percent to 3.6 million in 2015, "marking a return of these customers to France," officials said in a statement.
There was a 1.5 percent drop in European visitors although the number of British tourists crossing the Channel went up 3.3 percent.
This article was written by Samuel Petrequin from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.