Country Plans France ;
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France Market Profile

The French maintain a robust, growing propensity for travel, buoyed by an increase in low-cost direct flights to California. The country recently surpassed $1 billion in visitor spending within California. While safety concerns have affected the market, California is still a highly desired destination in the global landscape for French travelers. Data updated as of February 2020.


Market Profile

$1.276 Billion 
Preliminary Visitor Spending, 2019
$1.477 Billion*
Forecasted Visitor Spending, 2023
*Reflects pre-coronavirus forecast.
20.9%
Market Share (U.S. Spend), 2018

Travel & Planning

Airlift (2019)

  • 56 weekly nonstop flights
  • 19,000 weekly nonstop seats
  • 3 entry points (Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco)

Booking

  • Average planning timeframe: 5 to 6 months
  • Average booking timeframe: 3 to 4 months
  • OTAs and travel agencies remain important allowing for flexible itineraries
  • Independent travelers are booking directly and want to create their own itinerary
  • Peak travel months: April–November with highest peak in July–August

Visitor Characteristics

Sought-After Travel Experiences

  • Exploration: French travelers seek undiscovered destinations and locations that aren’t overpopulated with tourists.
  • Cultural immersion: French travelers desire to be immersed in the history of a place through food and wine, culture and other locally rooted experiences.
  • Road trips: The French associate a “hit the road” attitude with California and desire to take road trips of their own.
  • Instagram-worthy experiences: Millennials and Gen Z turn to social media to gain inspiration and plan their travels.

How to reach French Travelers

  • Social Media
  • Traditional Media
  • Travel Trade

Market Conditions

The French economy is showing positive growth, with GDP projected to grow +1.3% in 2019, purchasing power expected to increase +2.9%, and the unemployment rate at 9.1%. After social protests from the yellow vests movement made headlines in the spring, unrest appears to have died down; however, President Macron is still planning to move forward with social reforms that could spark new demonstrations.


Competitive Landscape

Competition within the U.S. is being influenced by the emergence of nonstop service by Norwegian Air to Chicago, Boston and Austin. In 2020, New York City will have expanded service with the introduction of flights by Level and Corsair. Given this airlift expansion, Chicago and New York in particular have increased their marketing efforts in France to take advantage.

Opportunities
The U.S. remains the No. 1 long-haul destination for French travelers, and French tourism is at a record high. This has encouraged carriers such as Delta to not only increase service to California, but to refurbish their 777 carrier with luxury private suites.

Challenges
Some feel France offers similar attractions to California and so opt for staycations. Additional risks include the perceived increase in homelessness in big cities, rising hospitality rates and low-cost air carriers facing bankruptcy.


Sources

  • DIIO
  • Bureau of Economic Analysis, NTTO, Dean Runyan, Tourism Economics
  • U.S. Dept. of Commerce, National Travel and Tourism Office, “Survey of International Air Travelers”, CIC Research