France is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world – if not the most popular travel spot – but that could all soon be about to change. After decades of travellers flocking to the country, France has announced that it will be carrying out a strategy to reduce visitor numbers.
French tourism minister Olivia Gregoire said that the policy is in response to threats to ‘the environment, the quality of life for locals, and the experiences for its visitors’. Overtourism has apparently been much more of a problem in France since the pandemic, with the issue being that tourist sites are overwhelmed by visitors who don’t actually spend much time or money in them. As such, local communities are finding that they don’t have the funds to support themselves.
So far, France hasn’t announced exactly how it plans to combat overtourism. The first step will see the government set up a group to monitor the country’s tourist industry and identify the most at-risk sites. France will even be enlisting the help of travel influencers – who might more typically be known for encouraging people to travel – to help spread awareness of the issues caused by overtourism.
Some popular visitor spots in France have already started taking action to reduce visitor numbers. Marseille’s Calanques National Park has a reservation system that limits daily visitors to its famed Sugiton coves to just 400 visitors. First enforced during the pandemic, the restrictions on visitor numbers will be kept in place for at least five years.
The island of Brehat in Brittany, meanwhile, has started capping daily visitors numbers at 4,700. These popular attractions aren’t necessarily trying to reduce overall visitor numbers, but spread them more evenly throughout the year.
It isn’t hard to see why France is taking action to manage visitor numbers. After all, locals and the environment should come first. If they can’t survive, will there eventually be anything actually worth visiting?
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