French hotels had strong 2018 year despite protests: MKG

The Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat is seen in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, on the French Riviera, France, October 19, 2018. Picture taken October 19, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

PARIS (Reuters) - Four weekends of anti-government violence on the famous Champs-Elysees avenue cost Paris hoteliers some 18 million euros ($20.43 million) in lost revenue as tourists canceled bookings, research firm MKG said on Tuesday.

However, the overall French hotel sector did very well in 2018, helped by a return of foreign tourists to Paris and on the French Riviera.

French hotel occupancy rates rose by 1 percentage point to 68.2 percent during the year while prices rose by nearly 5 percent.

Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR) in France rose 6.6 percent to exceed 60 euros for the first time ever.

In Paris, RevPAR rose 11 percent to 129.4 euros and would have matched 130 euros, its 2014 level, without the protests. Occupancy ratio in Paris reached 79.7 percent.

The 2018 occupancy ratio was close to the 80 percent record hit in 2014, before a wave of deadly attacks by Islamist militants in France in 2015 and 2016 drove tourists away. Visitors have since flocked back to the country.

Tourism accounts for more than 7 percent of France’s gross domestic product and employs about 2 million people in the country. France hopes to attract 100 million foreign tourists by 2020.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, Pascale Denis, Editing by Inti Landauro