France Reports 7% Arrivals Boost for '97 By Dinah Spritzer / March 31, 1998 Share 1 -- BERLIN -- France experienced a 7% boost in tourist arrivals in 1997, welcoming 66.8 million visitors, French tourism officials said at the recent ITB trade show here. The increase compares with a 4.2% rise in 1996. International tourism receipts rose 8% last year over 1996 to $27.9 billion, officials added.The top visitors' attraction in France is Disneyland Paris, followed by the Georges Pompidou Center, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.Hotels in France, meanwhile, reported a 9.5% overall increase in overnight stays, with three- to five-star hotels registering a growth of 13.5%.News from other destinations, announced at ITB, follows:In Great Britain, where the preparations for the millennium have assumed epic proportions, an environmental research center near Doncaster, England, will be ready for end-of-the-century-minded tourists by Easter 1999.Also next year, Dynamic Earth, which claims to be the world's first geological visitor center, will open in Edinburgh, Scotland.Cornwall's Eden Project, the largest greenhouse in the world (complete with tropical rainforest), will welcome visitors in the spring of 2000.The debut of Europe's longest looping roller coaster, called the Millennium Roller Coaster, will open in Skegness next summer.Not to be outdone, London will offer a ride on the Millennium Wheel, a ferris wheel with a bird's eye view over the capital.In the art world, one of the most anticipated events is the 2000 opening of the Tate Gallery of Modern Art in London. The existing Tate Gallery is under redevelopment and will be ready in 2001.In Wales, the Cardiff Bay redevelopment project on the city's waterfront area attracted 1 million visitors last year, officials said.Cardiff's 135-room St. David's Hotel and Spa, owned by Rocco Forte, is schedule to open in October; the Hilton National will open next year.Monaco had a 12% increase in visitors last year, with 254,000 arrivals. The growth was stimulated by the principality's 700th anniversary, authorities said, as well as growth in the meetings and conferences sector. Upcoming Monte Carlo projects include a multimillion-dollar railway station, due to be completed next year, and the Grimaldi conference center, to open in 2000.Turkey registered a 13.5% growth in arrivals last year with more than 9 million tourists.In Israel, following two suicide bombing attacks last summer, international arrivals fell about 2% to 2.1 million in 1997.Last year, Iran showed a 2.5% increase in arrivals, the total reaching 476,000.On the technology front, a Plog Research report unveiled here stated that 61% of the people who log onto the Web to search for travel information make reservations after their on-line activity, but only 19% make them on-line.