(Bloomberg) -- Paris tourism is bouncing back as European and American visitors return to take in the sights of the French capital after two years of Covid-related lockdowns and restrictions.
The city is the second-most sought-after destination worldwide this year, behind London, according to booking aggregator Trivago. That has steadily pushed up hotel room rates and occupancy since the beginning of the year.
The average hotel price in Paris was around 173 euros ($183) the last week of April, a 17% increase from the same period in 2019 and up even more sharply compared with the start of the year, according to data from tourism research firm MKG Consulting.
Paris is traditionally one of the most-visited cities in the world and, before Covid, tourism-related spending represented more than 7% of France’s economy, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. After the country dropped some of its last mask-wearing requirements this month, the rise in visitors should accelerate, said Jean-Bernard Falco, founder of hotel and tourism industry group Atop.
“I think we’ll see the best year we’ve ever seen,” Falco said. “We’re going to surpass 2019. The future is wonderful.”
The tourism boom has only really taken hold over the past several weeks, with current hotel revenue up 20% and occupancy on par with the first half of May 2019, at around 80%-90%, Falco said. That was far from the case earlier in the year. Hotel stays through March in the greater Paris region were down 26%, according to the most recent data available from the statistics institute Insee.
Accor SA, France’s biggest hotel group, said it has seen continuous improvement each month this year in revenue per available room in Paris, with a particularly large jump in April.
“We’re very happy to see Paris become reinvigorated again,” Maud Bailly, CEO for Southern Europe, said in an email, adding that leisure travel overall was now running at a higher rate than in 2019.
This month may show yet another surge in visitors. Hotel searches for Paris in the first half of May were up 60% compared to 2019, according to travel-booking platform Kayak.
More Europeans are coming to Paris, according to Trivago and Accor, while Americans have also returned, enjoying the effects of a weaker euro, which is down about 7% this year versus the dollar.
Other major cities, like London, are seeing a return to pre-pandemic activity as well. And London has prepared itself for a big uptick in visitors with thousands of new hotel rooms added in the UK capital.
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