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September 3, 2009

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Foreign tourists bypass France

FOREIGN tourism fell sharply in France this summer because of the global recession, but locals more than filled the gap by their taking holidays in their country, an official said yesterday.

France, the world's No. 1 tourist destination, saw a 14.5 percent drop in overnight stays by foreign tourists in July and August, Secretary of State for Tourism Henri Novelli said at a news conference, citing preliminary figures.

But overall overnight stays rose 1 percent during the two summer months, as French tourists took up the slack.

French tourists made 6.3 percent more overnight stays in France this summer than last but, like their foreign counterparts, were more budget minded. Camping and vacation villages were popular options, replacing more expensive nights in hotels in cities such as Paris.

The figures confirmed a trend seen around Europe this summer, where global tourism arrivals fell 10 percent in the first four months of the year. If early signs of economic recovery hold, the United Nations World Tourism Organization forecasts a smaller full-year fall of between 5 percent and 8 percent - based on data from top destinations, including France, Spain and Greece.


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