Palika (CNN) – Summer is in full swing in Paris and the entrance to the Louvre is closed with vendors selling water or Eiffel Tower memorabilia. Among them, U.S. tourist Chris Walkley is enjoying his first visit to France, taking with his friend by the museum’s glass pyramid.
“Paris really lived up to its fame,” said Walkley, from Boston. “The food was good. Everyone was very hospitable.”
For Walkley, the move to France was a sign of getting his life back to normal after two years of confinement and the turmoil caused by the disease. “I think things are back on track,” he added with a laugh.
For France, Walkley’s departure is a sign of goodwill.
He is just one of tens of thousands of Americans expected to visit Paris this summer, bringing a sense of comfort to a Covid -sponsored tourism business and to punish the the loss of wealthy Russians constantly flying to its peaks.
North America is projected to be a major contributor to the Parisian tourism market this summer, according to the city government, with registration levels close to pre-pandemic 2019 levels.
“Americans are doing the work,” said Frédéric Hocquard, Paris’s prime minister for tourism.
“That means they’re coming back with a lot of money to spend.”
They are back!
Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat Mayor Jean-François Dieterich said Russian tourists were being replaced by others.
Li-Lian Ahlskog Hou/CNN
While outside of Paris, from north to south, French tourists and government officials are chanting the same exciting message – the Americans are back!
This was the headline of the front page of Nice Matin, a popular French Riviera newspaper, on July 6. “They are selling without counting after two years of recording,” it reported.
On average, American tourists, mostly visiting groups, each spend $ 402 (400 euros) per day in France, taking the savings for a visit. 10-days to an astonishing $ 7,687, more than any other tourist, according to the report. produced by the research group GfK for Visa.
Americans are especially excited this year for the south of France in the Mediterranean, whose beautiful beaches are a paradise reserved for wealthy Russian holidaymakers.
The Alpes-Maritime Center, home to sun-kissed brands such as Nice and Cannes, is expected to lose $ 50.4 million by 2022 due to a lack of Russian tourists who have descended on the cities such as Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, according to a report published by the region’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry in March assessing the impact of the war in Ukraine.
But those negative predictions have not been fulfilled, the department said, noting that “the summer season is looking good.”
The search was confirmed by local officials and hotel owners on the French Riviera.
“It’s true that the Russians are small but they have been replaced by everyone else,” said Jean-François Dieterich, mayor of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
The small town of less than 1,500 residents is six out of 61 properties seized by Russia by the French government, according to the French Finance Ministry.
“It’s very surprising because we thought we would have an impact on the lack of Russian customers at the hotel but we didn’t,” said Bruno Mercadal, manager of the Hotel Royal-Riviera, a local. five stars in Saint-Jean-Cap. – Ferrat.
Significant tourist losses in the Alpes-Maritime region cannot be realized.
Li-Lian Ahlskog Hou/CNN
Prior to the illness, Russian tourists accounted for 20% to 25% of hotel customers in the summer months, but this year ended due to sanctions imposed on Russia.
Mercadal recalled the unrest that erupted shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – Russian foreigners had to stay in hotels with cash because their credit cards later became useless. the expulsion of their country from the SWIFT system.
Now, Americans are flying to the Mercadal hotel. U.S. visitors typically report the same share of customers as Russians than Russians, but this year for June alone, the percentage of U.S. visitors jumped. and 42%.
“This is absolutely amazing,” Mercadal said.
The war in Ukraine has also affected trade prices, lowering the euro’s value to its lowest levels against the currency since 2002, which has made travel to Europe much easier for Americans.
“What’s happening this year is this revenge tour,” Mercadal said, referring to the fact that people are increasingly making big trips as a way to record Covid sequestrations. -enforced of the past two years.
“It’s surprisingly good and punishable, for the most part, [for] lack of Russian customers, ”he added.