France is number one tourist destination worldwide

Despite tourist arrivals dropping 3% in 2008, France remains the premier tourist destination worldwide, announced Herv� Novelli, France’s tourism minister.

After a promising start, tourist figures dropped 11% in the third quarter and 6% in the fourth quarter. “In 2008, France was still the first tourist destination in the world, the country’s popularity endures,” said Novelli in a statement, attributing the drop in arrivals to a decrease in transit passengers – 11 million versus 13.9 million in 2007. Meanwhile, tourism figures stood firm at 68 million.

Europeans are still the most important market for France, but showed a slight drop of 4% over the year, while tourists from far-flung destinations are on the up.

The tourism minister noted that early indications show a slight decrease in tourism for 2009, but that the winter season had been more than satisfactory and last minute bookings were on the rise.