Chinese to opt for a summer in Paris

Updated: Jun 7, 2024 By Cheng Si chinadaily.com.cn Print
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China's outbound trips to France will peak this summer thanks to deepening tourism cooperation between the two countries and the approaching Paris 2024 Olympic Games, said travel agencies and tourism industry insiders.

China and France have shown mutual friendly gestures in recent years, and a series of cultural and tourism-related activities are being staged in the two countries this year, as 2024 marks the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism and the 60th anniversary of China-France diplomatic ties.

"Outbound tourism to long-distance overseas destinations started to pick up from March last year, and countries in Western Europe were the first to see increasing Chinese travelers at the time. Chinese people's desire to travel to France, Switzerland and Italy remained high from May to August in 2023, with the bookings to France peaking over the summer last year," said Qi Chunguang, vice-president of travel platform Tuniu.

He said that tour products to France are still selling well on the platform this year. "Our customers love visiting and taking snaps at classic spots in France, including the Louvre Museum, the Palace of Versailles, the Eiffel Tower and the Paris Opera. They also like to taste French dishes and experience the romantic atmosphere of French cities," he said.

Experts and tourism insiders expect an upsurge in outbound travel to France this summer as the Paris 2024 Olympic Games approaches.

Figures from travel portal Qunar show that as of April 24, hotel bookings in France were up by 130 percent from March. The portal estimated that a boom in bookings to the country will come around July and August, after bookings for the first quarter this year returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Qi, from Tuniu, said that the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, to begin in late July, is a great opportunity for France to showcase its charms to the world, and it will lure more Chinese travelers.

"We've so far received some users looking for tailored tours to France. The cost of booking hotels and tourism services in Paris will see a rise during the Olympic Games, so we estimate a travel boom to the country after the Games given the travel costs," he said.

Catherine Oden, director for China at Atout France, France's tourism development agency, said in a recent interview with the Beijing News that France aims to shape itself as a sustainable tourism destination, with the aim resonating with China's and France's goals of sustainable development.

She said that France received around 2 million Chinese travelers a year in normal times, and the number for this year is estimated to recover to half that of 2019.

She said that the Paris Olympic Games will help attract international travelers to the country and boost France's tourism economy. She hopes that more Chinese people can travel to France this year, and lengthen their stays in the country for one or two weeks, or even longer, to enjoy the distinctive lifestyles and cultures of different areas of France.

China has shown goodwill to France by optimizing visa policies to deepen mutual tourism and people-to-people communication.

In late November, China announced a unilateral visa-free policy for France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia. Under the policy, people from these countries holding ordinary passports are allowed to stay in the Chinese mainland for up to 15 days for business, tourism, family trips or transit without a visa. The policy started from Dec 1 and will run until Nov 30 this year.

Tourism campaigns and activities promoting China as a destination have been organized in France in recent months. Chengdu, one of the major habitats for giant pandas in Southwest China's Sichuan province, held a panda-themed art exhibition in Paris in March.

In April, an advertising campaign was unveiled in Paris where 100 taxis were adorned with Chinese elements, including pandas, Beijing's Temple of Heaven and banners saying "China welcomes you" in French.

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