March 06, 2024

France Experiences Surge in Travel Demand Ahead of 2024 Summer Olympics with Americans Leading the Charge

Sojern shared its latest travel data ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympics. Slated to be held in Paris, France from 26 July - 11 August 2024, the summer Olympic games will bring together 10,500 athletes from 206 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) that represent nations from all over the world. The games will be the biggest event ever organized in France.

Between the Super Bowl, Olympics, European Championship, and other major sporting events, ad spending is projected to reach $61 billion this year alone. Not only do these events bolster advertising revenues, but they also drive incredible travel demand, with countries seeing massive spikes as attendees flock to cheer on their favorite teams. For example, flight bookings surged 63% compared to the prior year ahead of the F1 Grand Prix in Singapore and travelers booked their trips to Qatar well in advance of normal leisure travel to secure their place at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. These major sporting events also renew interest in host destinations long after the final match. After Qatar hosted the World Cup, the country saw between a 79-255% increase in international lodging searches, bucking seasonal travel trends.

Flight Bookings to Paris Increase as Olympic Tickets Go On Sale

Paris is already a popular destination – 6.3 million travelers visited the Eiffel Tower in 2023, surpassing pre-COVID-19 tourism – and the Olympics will only solidify its place as top-of-mind for travelers. Tickets for the 33rd Olympic Games went on sale on 30 November 2023, and travel demand to France has already increased substantially. For the period of the Olympic Games in 2024, flight bookings, not just searches, to Paris are up 125% compared to the same travel period last year.

Arrival dates vary, indicating that travelers likely are planning trips around specific events and available vacation time. Regardless of arrival date, one thing is certain: The majority of travelers are planning to leave Paris the day the Olympics end, highlighting that many are likely coming from countries where companies don't offer extended leave, such as the United States. Additionally, with an average trip length of 11 days compared to 13.2 in 2023, it's clear that the games are driving travel decisions.

France is Still a Popular Destination for American Travelers

Historically, Paris has been a top summer destination for travelers around the world, and the Olympics will cement France's place at the top of their lists. According to Sojern flight booking data, 23.8% of bookings during the Olympic period to Paris originate from the United States, making it the top origin country internationally followed by Canada, United Kingdom, Japan and Spain. The United States led the medal count in both the 2020 and 2016 Olympics, which may be contributing to demand. Given that summer travel to Paris is consistently strong, travelers need to book their trips early during the Olympic Games.

Top Origin Countries to Paris, France

Booking Trend from Paris to Elsewhere in France

Parisians Are Booking Staycation Trips to Other French Destinations

While international travelers are flocking to Paris for the Olympics, Parisians are finding solace elsewhere by taking staycations to other parts of France. Currently, hotel bookings from Parisians traveling to other parts of France are up 49% during the Olympics season compared to 2023, indicating that many Parisians plan to leave the city during the games to avoid crowds. Lille, Nice, Corsica, Lyon, and Toulouse are top destinations, giving hoteliers around the country the opportunity to attract Parisians to their properties during the Olympic period.

"We are excited about the increasing interest in Lyon as a tourist destination and we look forward to hosting visitors before and after the Olympic events. Lyon, just a 2-hour train ride from Paris, offers the perfect blend of sports, gastronomy, culture, and the renowned French art de vivre. Having hosted major events like the Women's Football World Cup and the Rugby World Cup recently, we're well-versed in delivering a memorable French experience. Whether travelers are from near or far, Lyon aims to leverage the rising travel demand to establish a lasting appeal to new visitors," said Mathilde Carpentier, Partnership and Promotion Director at ONLYLYON Tourisme et Congrès.

How Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) Can Leverage Increased Travel Demand

"By using the right channels throughout the year – not just seasonally – DMOs can reach travelers in the moment and inspire them to think beyond sporting events," said Noreen Henry, Chief Revenue Officer at Sojern. "Not only do always-on, multichannel campaigns give DMOs better insights, but these types of campaigns enable them to maximize their budgets, do more with less, and get in front of travelers at every stage of the planning cycle."

DMOs can capitalize on existing demand and renewed interest to entice travelers to book local attractions or even explore lesser-known regions close by. This requires DMOs to move beyond traditional seasonal campaigns and take an always-on, multichannel approach to their marketing strategies. In response to an uncertain economy and inflation, more than 58% of DMOs are taking an always-on approach to marketing.

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