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Are Chinese Tourists Going to the Paris 2024 Olympics?

Are the Paris 2024 Olympic Games causing a surge in Chinese tourism? Although France remains one of the most popular European destinations and a top wish-list country for Chinese tourists, the data does not definitively point to an Olympics-related boost.

Are the 2024 Olympic Games causing a surge in Chinese tourism to Paris and/or France? Although France remains one of the most popular European destinations and a top wish-list country for Chinese tourists, the data does not definitively point to an Olympics-related boost.

This spring, Airbnb reported that search volumes for France with check-in dates between July 20 and Aug 13 surged nearly eightfold year-on-year, while searches for Paris skyrocketed eleven-fold from a year earlier, making Paris the most popular European urban destination for Chinese tourists this summer. But have searches translated into actual bookings?

Tongcheng has reported a 70% year-on-year increase in bookings for flights to Paris from major Chinese cities in July, along with a 150% increase in hotel bookings in Paris, and a 285% increase in group tour bookings. Data from Ctrip showed that French summer travel orders jumped by 80% year-on-year.

However impressive these numbers sound, they are not particularly remarkable when compared to other countries. For example, Chinese arrivals to Vietnam in May were 145% higher than the year previous, and Chinese visitors to Bosnia Herzegovina increased by 166% in the same time period. Ctrip projects an 80% increase in Chinese tourism to Latin America this summer. The fact is, Chinese tourism to most places in the world is experiencing huge increases compared to 2023. The increased summer bookings to Paris are also comparable to Chinese travel to the French capital in non-Olympic months. According to the Paris tourism board, Chinese bookings for April were up 221% year on year – though still 32% behind 2019.

In the past, the World Cup has been a bigger event for Chinese tourists than the Olympics, drawing 5,000 Chinese fans to Brazil in 2014, compared to 3,000 for the Rio Olympics in 2016. Around 100k Chinese fans were estimated to have traveled to Russia for the 2018 World Cup.

This year, the UEFA Euro 2024 seems to be having a bigger impact on Chinese travel to Germany than the Olympics will on travel to France. In late May, Ctrip reported that bookings via their app for hotels in Germany during the UEFA Euro 2024 (14 June-14 July) had increased 142% month on month, and 258% year on year. Not usually among Flight Master’s weekly list of the top 17 countries with the highest flight volume, Germany was included for the week of 24-30 June, with 86 flights from China.

However, even with the Olympics just a few weeks away, it still might be too early to tell if there will be a surge in Chinese travel. Chinese travelers tend to book trips very last minute – Ctrip data for 2023 shows that the average lead time for a trip to Europe is 10 days for flight bookings and just 5 days for hotel bookings. Some travel businesses have prepared for a travel boom, with Xiamen Airlines increasing the frequency of its Xiamen-Paris flights to five times a week for the period between 31 July-11 September.

The true impact might also be felt more clearly after the Games, with millions of Chinese viewers watching scenes from Paris at home this summer inspired to plan future travel once the Games are over and costs of a trip to France come back down.

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