Skift Take

The 2024 Paris Olympics may be a big draw – but not for international tourists.

Sports fans around the world aren’t rushing to Paris for this summer’s Olympic Games.

International flight bookings for the event period, from July 26 to August 11, have increased by a modest 8% from the same period last year, according to an analysis by ForwardKeys, a travel data analytics firm. 

That’s way down from the last time the event was held before the Covid pandemic: In 2016, Rio de Janeiro had a 115% increase in international bookings.

In all, about 11.3 million visitors are expected to go to Paris during the Games, but only 1.5 million of them are foreign, levels seen in a typical summer, according to Paris je t’aime, the city’s tourism board.

Most ticket holders are French, said Corinne Menegaux, director general of Paris je t’aime, in a May interview with Skift.

Fans Follow Favorite Olympic Athletes to Paris

The highest booking peaks are for July 25. Flight bookings for that day are up 53%, driven by nations like Japan (up 253%), China (153%), Brazil (114%), and the U.S. (76%).

Particular sports are driving demand. Bookings are up 22% for August 4, the day of 100m sprint and the men’s golf tournament. Ireland dominates this period likely due to fans coming out to support golfer Rory McIlroy. 

Tennis, which runs between July 27 and August 4, is driving flights for specific athletes. Bookings from Serbia are up 168% as Novak Djokovic, 37, potentially competes in his final Olympic Games.

French Stick to Vacationing in France

French nationals are opting to attend the Olympics instead of taking vacations abroad during the peak travel season of mid-July to mid-August, said Frederic Pilloud, director of marketing and e-commerce group for MisterFly, a French online travel agency.

“The Olympic Games have had a direct negative impact on French outbound tour operators, with bookings in decline ranging from 10% to 30% depending on the operator,”  he said.

Some Paris Tourism Businesses Take Financial Hit During Olympics

Many travelers are avoiding Paris — the world’s most-visited tourist destination — because of the event. Air France expects to lose between 160 million to 180 million euros ($172 to $194 million) in revenue between June and August.

Some tour operators expect to feel a pinch. “The bookings for tours is around 25% in July and August of what it is in normal years,” said Angelo Ruggeri, manager of Private Tours Paris. “We will lose a tremendous amount of money.”

Hotel Bookings Picks Up When Olympics Start

Hotel occupancy is a mixed picture. Up until the games start, hotel occupancy is expected to stay below what it was last year, according to data from CoStar.

On July 26 and July 27, occupancy will peak at 85% and 84%, respectively, both up over 30% than last year. After those dates, the occupancy rates drop and remain between 67% and 83% for the rest of the games.

Some hotels have overestimated their demand. “We’ll probably be at 85% during the games, but there are still rooms available for these events,” said Sebastien Bazin, Accor Group Chairman and CEO, during a shareholder meeting in late May.

Suburbs See Short-Term Rental Boom

Short-term rental bookings are a bright spot. Short-term rentals in Paris and its immediate suburbs like Seine-Saint-Denis are experiencing a 27% increase in bookings for the Olympics compared to the two weeks prior, with suburban areas seeing a huge 79% jump, according to AirDNA.

Airbnb reported last month that as of the end of March, its active listings in the Paris area jumped 40% year-over-year. Nights booked in the Paris region were up 400% compared to a year earlier.


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Tags: olympics, paris, Paris 2024 Olympics, sports tourism, tourism

Photo credit: Paris is getting a domestic tourism boom. Alicia Steels / Unsplash

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