France is set to cement itself as the most visited country in the world, according to GlobalData, which estimates that the country will attract 93.7 million international travelers by 2025. The leading data and analytics company notes that this forecast will place the country ahead of competitor, Spain, which overtook France in 2021.
According to the latest report by GlobalData, ‘Tourism Destination Market Insight: Western Europe (2022)’, France held the title of most visited country in the world prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, welcoming 88.1 million visitors in 2019. However, it was overtaken by Spain in 2021. Having attracted 66.6 million international visitors in 2022, France is now set to re-claim the title, with the number of international arrivals expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.1% between 2022 and 2025.
Hannah Free, Travel & Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Alongside Italy and Spain, France represents a significant segment of the growth in Western Europe. The country is not only popular with travelers from Europe itself—especially the UK, Germany and Belgium—but it is also popular with visitors from further afield, including China and the United States. In fact, France is one of the top Western European destinations for US travelers.”
Spain received 26.3 million visitors in 2021, overtaking France to become the most visited Western European destination. By 2025, Spain is expected to attract 89.5 million international visitors (CAGR of 12.2% between 2022 and 2025).
Free continued: “Visitation to France and Spain will remain strong in the years to come, with festivals, culture and gastronomy being a big pull for tourists. Both countries have a lot to offer visitors, with their own unique cultures, cuisines, and atmospheres. Both countries are also relatively large, with a diverse and varied landscape, and each country has its own unique coastline.”
One of France’s big advantages is its transportation. Travel between major cities in both France and Spain is relatively easy, with high-speed trains connecting most major cities.
Free adds: “One key transportation project in Western Europe is the Ultra Rapid Train line, which is being planned by the European Commission to improve connectivity between Lisbon in Portugal and Helsinki in Finland. The program involves the construction of an 8,000km doubletrack high-speed railway network between Lisbon and Helsinki with a loop around the Baltic Sea. The rail line will pass through, Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, and Finland.”