Skift Take

Corinne Menegaux says the 2024 Paris Olympics will be a global tourism advertisement for the City of Light, rather than driving massive tourism during the event itself.

Paris is set to host the 2024 Olympics this summer, but it won’t be a major international tourism draw. Only 30% of the event attendees are from abroad. Its real value for the destination is going to be the images of professional breakdancing, skateboarding and other urban sports in the heart of Paris.

“It’s a way of showing that Paris is really implicated in this urban culture,” said Corinne Menegaux, director general of Paris je t’aime, the city’s tourism board.

Menegaux spoke with Skift about the impact of the Olympics on Paris, how the American market is performing, why 2024 is not the city’s best year for tourism, and why her organization does not pay influencers.

American Tourists Continue Drive Paris’ Tourism Recovery

Skift: Last year, you told me that American tourist spending in Paris was “amazing” and was key to your destination’s recovery. How is the American inbound market doing right now?

Americans spend quite a lot. They’re driving the high-end luxury market. But we didn’t see any improvement last year or the year before. That [demand] has quite stabilized actually, because our currencies are quite stabilized versus one and the other. 

Tourism to Paris During the Olympics

There’s a feeling Paris will be too expensive for tourists because of the Olympics.

I would say that hotels and food and beverage and everything will be increasing a little for this period. Still, honestly, this is really reasonable actually, versus what happened in the last games in other cities. 

And we’ve got to take into account that the public for the Olympics is mostly local people. So I would say it’s not the best year ever that we will have in terms of tourism actually in 2024. And the Olympics is not a driver for tourism.

What is the visitor profile for the Olympics? How much of it is international?

We only have 30% of people coming from abroad. So that’s not so much. The people who are coming from foreign countries want to support their country, the athlete, et cetera. 

If you look at the reservations and bookings, the [visitors from the foreign] countries are not the same whether it’s at the beginning or the end of the Olympics according to the different disciplines. It’s very linked to the discipline and the sports, which are shown at the moment. 

Corinne Menegaux, director general of Paris je t’aime

Olympics Spotlights Paris

What will having the Olympics mean for your promotional efforts?

You will have incredible images of the Olympics in Paris because we’ve made the choice to have it in the heart of the city. What you will see is not so much new theaters or new rooms, but it’s more a way of living in Paris differently.  It’s a way of showing Paris, which is much greener than it was before, with new cycling lanes and the Seine, which is absolutely major for us.

And one of the major things that we want to show is a new dynamic with the Olympics. So it’s the local, but it’s also everything about new disciplines like urban culture, urban climbing, skateboarding, breakdancing. It’s a way of showing that Paris is really implicated in this urban culture.

We also opened a new place, Spot24, with the only Olympic exhibition and the new disciplines. It’s a major exhibition in the heart of Paris, just near the Eiffel Tower. It’s the mix between sports and urban culture with street music and everything. 

And for me, the legacy is much more important than the two weeks itself, in fact. If we have to rank a little, I would say the Paralympics are much more important for me in terms of message and values than the Olympics. And I would say that we have to make the most effort for the Paralympics because it’s a way also of showing the values of inclusion that will carry on in Paris. 

Why Paris Doesn’t Pay Influencers for Marketing

One thing you told me last year was you don’t pay influencers to promote Paris because you think they’re inauthentic. Can you explain that?

Yeah, we don’t. It’s not exactly how we want to spread the word about Paris. 

We are Paris je t’aime, and we think very strongly of the brand that we have. It’s more how we can gather the people who love Paris and who want to say something about it and how we can leverage this love. 

Because in fact, when you like Paris, you just want to say that you like Paris and everyone has his own history with Paris, and I think this is really what we want to share. In fact, showing Paris differently from the inside and saying that, okay, you can [visit] Paris 10 times and see something different each time.

We have some ambassadors. For example, all the athletes, young people participating in these young disciplines, new disciplines that we were talking about. And they’re very proud to showcase the Paris destination and claim their love for Paris and it’s not a sales or paid collaboration.


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Tags: france, olympics, Paris 2024 Olympics, tourism

Photo credit: Alexis Minchella on Unsplash Alexis Minchella / Unsplash

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