France

France

The International Passenger Survey (IPS) was suspended on 16 March 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic until the start of 2021. The ONS have made every effort to produce high-quality estimates for the periods when IPS data is not being collected but have not been able to produce a full set of results therefore no data from 2020 is available on the interactive chart below. Interviewing initially began at UK airports at the start of 2021, though the IPS remained suspended at some sea ports and train stations during the year. Data for 2021 and 2022 is also excluded below as there were no interviews at Eurotunnel until July 2022 and data from Dover was only collected from Q3 2021.

Read more about 2020 inbound data2021 inbound data, 2022 quarterly data as well as the latest monthly data for 2022.

Visitor characteristics

  • Most trips are by those aged 25-44, but the cohort of 45-54
  • Almost three-in-five holiday visitors from France (excluding British nationals) are making a repeat trip to Britain (within ten years)
  • 30% of visiting friends and relatives (VFR) visitors from France are British nationals
  • 98% of departing visitors (excluding British nationals) are ‘likely’ or ‘extremely likely’ to recommend a visit to Britain

Popular activities

Dining in a restaurant

Sightseeing of Famous Buildings/ Monuments

Went Shopping

Global context

Measure2019
International tourism expenditure (US$bn)50.5
Global rank for international tourism expenditure5
Number of outbound visits (m)55.8
Most visited destinationSpain

Key demographic and economic data

Measure2022
Population (m)67.9
GDP per capita PPP (US$)53,996
Annual average GDP growth over past decade (%)1.1
Annual GDP growth (%)2.6

Inbound visits to Britain from France

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Number of visits

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Total expenditure (GBP)

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Total nights spent

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Average length of stay (Nights)

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Average spend per visit (GBP)

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What the French think about Britain

  • The French rate the UK highly for culture in general, contemporary culture, sports, vibrant cities, historic buildings, and cultural heritage, but less for welcome and scenic natural beauty; the UK was rated 23rd and 42nd out of sixty nations repectively on these two attributes in 2022
  • Music and museums are the cultural products or services most strongly associated with the UK among the French
  • Australia, Italy and the US are the destinations most likely to be seen as the ‘best place’ for delivering on factors the French most ‘want’ from a destination
  • Areas of strength for Britain include the ‘ease of getting around’, ‘good shopping’, ‘being somewhere to see famous sites’ and for ‘lots of history’ and to ‘watch sporting events’ while very few consider Britain as the ‘best place for ‘food and drink’
  • Activities that appeal to potential French visitors include ‘riding the scenic 'Hogwarts Express' (Harry Potter train) through the Scottish Highlands', 'taking a canal boat tour through the waterways of England', 'spotting wildlife in the Scottish Highlands', 'going on a food tour of one of London's best foodie markets' and 'visiting Windsor Castle'.

Caring for visitors

  • The French are keen to have information provided in their own language when in Britain
  • They prefer to stay in mid-range accommodation including bed and breakfasts, with en-suite facilities. Country house hotels are popular in France and a good benchmark for the value for money levels expected.
  • Youth travellers prefer to opt for youth hostels or university accommodation as they tend to be more price-sensitive
  • Expectation levels for standards and services are high – any issues should be resolved promptly

The leisure & travel trade

  • The trade structure is quite complex and fragmented - made up of tour operators and travel agencies (online and offline), with associations and social clubs playing an important role
  • November-December and May-September are the main planning periods
  • Tour operators are mainly based in Paris

 

Access to Britain from France

Measure2022
Weekly aircraft departures629
Weekly seat capacity108,152
Airports with direct routes in France35
Airports with direct routes in Britain21
Eurostar trains per day from Paris14
Weekly ferry crossings704
Weekly Eurotunnel Shuttles154
  • Slightly more visitors reach Britain from France by plane than through the Channel Tunnel
  • Airline seat capacity is highly seasonal but is largely shaped by demand for travel to France by holidaying Britons
  • Routes with the highest capacity are those operating from Paris to London
  • Following the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, scheduled flight seat capacity in 2022 from France to the UK recovered to 75% of 2019 levels
  • French visitors flying home from Britain pay £13 in Air Passenger Duty