France’s Government wants to regulate visitor numbers during peak season, with “overtourism” impacting the environment and local residents.
The country has announced a strategy to manage the flow of visitors at popular tourist sites and to encourage off-season visits.
France is the world’s biggest tourist destination. But Government data says tourism activity is concentrated to just 20% of the country.
What is overtourism?
Overtourism is when specific locations are visited by an excessive number of tourists, negatively impacting local residents and the surrounding environment.
France’s Minister for Tourism, Olivia Grégoire, says the influx of tourists in France is already threatening “the environment, the quality of life for locals, and the experiences for its visitors”.
For example, a beach in Étretrat, a town with 1,200 residents, records up to 10,000 tourists a day during the peak season. This is credited to the success of Netflix’s ‘Lupin’.
“This massive influx ends up trampling and eroding the cliffs,” a local environmental activist told media.
Many locations in France have already set daily visitor caps during the summer season. The island of Bréhat in Brittany now imposes a 4,700 daily visitor capacity. The Sugiton coves in Marseille accept just 400 people daily, down from 2,500.
To tackle this, the French Government says it will promote year-round travel and encourage tourists to favour lesser-known landmarks. These efforts will be supported by a social media influencer campaign.
Grégoire told media: “If we want to free up sites that are overly frequented, we need to bring other destinations to the fore and other tourist itineraries.”
Data from major tourist sites will also be gathered for the first time to analyse visitor patterns throughout the year.