Skift Take

Paris is following the positive tourism trend that the rest of Europe enjoyed last year, thanks in large part to business travel and companies like Airbnb. But with another terrorist-related shooting in France last weekend, it remains to be seen whether the city can continue to prove it's safe to visit.

Paris marked a record number of hotel stays in 2017, helped by business travel and international arrivals.

The City of Lights had a record number of overnight hotel stays (23.6 million, up 11.3 percent year-over-year) in 2017, according to data released this week by the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau. Non-hotel overnight stays, such as in alternative accommodations like Airbnb, accounted for 16.4 million overnight stays in Paris last year.

Paris is Airbnb’s largest market, but stays at hostels and with friends and family are also included in the alternative accommodations data.

Business travel was more than half (50.8 percent) of all arrivals, and overnight business stays increased 8.2 percent from 2016. Leisure travel saw an upswing in the second half of 2017, the data shows.

Signs of Paris’ recovery came early last year when hotel reservations began to pick up after more than a year of declines due to terror attacks, labor protests, strikes, and floods. In January, the Louvre announced it had strong growth last year and Disneyland Paris said it finally had a good year in 2017 after years of disappointing results.

International hotel arrivals jumped 15 percent to 12 million arrivals and French arrivals grew 8 percent to 28 million. The United States, Paris’ largest international market, grew 19 percent over 2016 and surpassed two million arrivals for the first time since 2000. China also came back, with arrivals notching 20 percent growth to nearly one million arrivals.

Excluding China, Asian arrivals were up nearly 19 percent, driven by India, Indonesia, and South Korea. Latin American arrivals were up more than 20 percent, helped by recovering economies in countries like Brazil.

The convention and visitors bureau said its Greater Paris Recovery Plan, which was launched in late 2016 to counter the negative and unsafe perceptions many travelers had of the destination, has been key to the city’s recovery.

Courting more business travel is also a cornerstone of the organization’s plan. “Throughout the year, the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, in collaboration with Atout France, developed campaigns aimed at the general public – billboards and digital – in the United Kingdom and Germany in particular, but also in other nearby European markets, organized large-scale themed press events for around 350 foreign journalists, and expanded its qualified actions targeted at professionals and in the business tourism sector,” the organization said in a statement.

AccorHotels, which is based in Paris and one of the largest hotel companies in France, said France was one of its top revenue markets last year. Jean-Jacques Morin, chief financial officer at AccorHotels, said during the company’s fourth-quarter 2017 earnings call last month that Accor’s revenue per available room for Paris was up 9.2 percent year-over-year for the quarter.

The convention and visitors bureau said its data is only preliminary and that final numbers will come later this year. But the early data backs up what’s already become apparent about 2017 – that European tourism is out of its slump and had one of its strongest years in recent memory last year.

Non-hotel accommodations also accounted for more than 40 percent of all overnight stays in Paris last year, and alternative accommodations growth was also a force elsewhere on the continent in 2017. Paris tourism officials are happy that business travelers are coming back for meetings and conventions, but they also owe alternative accommodations some thanks for their large share of arrivals last year.

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Tags: airbnb, business travel, paris

Photo Credit: Business travel was a big boost for Paris tourism last year. Pictured is a business traveler in Paris' business district. Gideon / Flickr

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