A total of 83 million foreign tourists visited France in 2012, an increase of 1.6 million (81.4 million) compared to 2011, French private television station LCI reported today.
The figures, thought to have been released by France’s DGCIS international competitiveness agency, consolidate France as the top tourism destination in the world.
LCI also said that these tourists spent about 35.8 billion euros (US$46 billion) while visiting France in 2012, an increase of 6.3% compared to 2011.
France remains a top preferred destination for Asians, Brasilians and Europeans, the annual report on tourism said. European visitors accounted for more than 83% of all tourists, the report said, adding that the number of Asians also grew by 9.9%.
Tourism is a key sector of the French economy, contributing about 6% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
France’s economy, like the rest of the European Union, has taken a severe beating in this financial crisis. Unemployment is as high as ever, and opposition politicians are blaming the government of Francois Hollande for the country’s economic woes, saying that it has failed to keep its promises made during the electoral campaign.
France is Europe’s second biggest economy after Germany.