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Paris 2024 Olympic Games: Challenges and Opportunities for French Tourism

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The Rugby Union World Cup kicked off last weekend in France, considered as a dress rehearsal for next summer’s Olympic Games in Paris. However, the expected 600,000 international visitors will dwarf in comparison to next summer’s Olympiad. The Games will bring with them many opportunities but also challenges for the French tourism industry. With a forecast global television audience of four billion, a well-executed Paris 2024 could raise the profile of France as a destination from 2025 onwards.

Olympic Games to boost international visitors and spending

The Games themselves are expected to attract 15 million spectators; however, many will be locals and domestic day trippers.

Up to three million additional visitors are expected in Paris in 2024

Source: Euromonitor International

Since the Olympics are being held in Europe for the first time in 12 years, an influx of visitors from France’s European neighbours is expected. In terms of the benefit to Paris’s tourism economy, industry sources’ estimates vary widely between EUR2 billion and EUR4 billion.

Experience from previous Games shows that Olympic visitors spend more per visit than regular visitors. With a huge influx of visitors arriving for a 17-day event, lodging providers will be the main winners. Short-term rentals will play a key role as the sector is more elastic in terms of capacity than hotels. As of April 2023, it was reported that 1,000 Parisian hosts were taking bookings on Airbnb for the weeks of the Games, but this is expected to grow exponentially, while hosts are increasing their prices by a factor of three during the Olympic weeks. The Games will also give a boost to transportation providers and consumer foodservice outlets, which will be catering for both day trippers and overnight visitors.Paris 24 Chart 1.svg

Hosting the Olympics will disrupt the Paris tourism economy

Paris will be going for a “Games in the city” concept. This will entail events near or even in Paris’s most iconic sites such as the Eiffel Tower, the Palace of Versailles and the Champs-Élysées.

Paris is well established as one of the world’s leading destinations, with 15 million inbound visitors expected in 2023

Source: Euromonitor International

Non-Olympic visitors will be avoiding these iconic sites, if they have access to them at all. Not just museums and heritage sites will be negatively impacted, but also organisers of guided walks and tours will see their activities restricted due to street closures.

Paris airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, already have a bad reputation in terms of information, management of passenger flows, and slow connections to central Paris. Some experts fear they will not cope with the influx of extra traffic during the Games, and non-Olympic travellers are being advised to avoid them three days before the opening ceremony and after the closing ceremony.

Will Paris 2024 meet its high sustainability ambitions?

In its bid for the 2024 Olympic Games, Paris’s main selling points were its heritage and prestige and equally its sustainability credentials.

France ranks 11th in Euromonitor’s Sustainable Travel Index, where it is trending upwards

Source: Euromonitor International

In terms of overtourism, the city benefits from the tradition for many Parisians to escape the city for the countryside, and during the Games an exodus is expected, leading to many properties being available to let and also taking pressure off crowding in the city.

A key concern regarding Paris hosting the Games is social sustainability, with the risk of a repeat of this summer’s rioting as well as industrial relations with trade unions, expected to take advantage demanding wage increases and threatening strikes in the run-up to the Games.

Paris is constructing an Olympic Village to the highest environmental standards, and it will be within walking distance of the aquatics centre and athletics events at the Stade de France. However, otherwise, the Games venues are highly spread out across Paris and the surrounding Ile-de-France. The organisers plan to overcome this with the extensive use of transfers by helicopter, flying in the face of its sustainability ambitions.

Investing EUR1.4 billion in cleaning the river Seine, to enable swimming events, was to be one of the legacies of the Games. In August 2023, authorities had to cancel the Open Water Swimming World Cup to be held in the Seine later the same month, an event that was seen as a test ahead of triathlon events at Paris 2024. The cancellation was due to unexpected heavy rainfall and even the best Olympic organisers cannot control the weather!Paris 24 Chart 2.svg

Benefits to French tourism to follow after the Games

Paris is not the first city to face concerns about its preparedness to host the Olympic Games. Inevitably, with an event with over 10,000 athletes and almost 10 million visitors, there will be some hiccups along the way, but Olympic Games in the past have gone smoothly. Arguably, Paris is the hub of the European high-speed rail network, with connections to four European capitals, which will relieve pressure on Paris’s two airports.

Assuming a successfully executed Games, it will be a great opportunity to showcase Paris as a destination, not least as the “Games in the city” concept will have the City of Lights as its stage, not least during the opening set on the Seine with iconic landmarks such as Notre Dame, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower forming a backdrop.

Paris ranks as number one overall in Euromonitor’s Top 100 City Destinations Index in 2022, but also leads in key metrics such as tourism performance, policy and attractiveness which bodes well for Paris’s successful hosting of the Games

However, the true benefits of a successful Paris 2024, forecast to be watched by a global television audience of four billion, will be felt in subsequent years. Unlike during the Olympics itself, this will benefit the overall tourism economy and not just hospitality, with Euromonitor International expecting a steady increase in inbound visitors to France and its capital city over the forecast period.

Paris 24 Chart 3.svg

Learn more about the outlook for the travel industry in France in our report, Travel in France, published in September 2023.


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