France's Yellow Vest protests haven't had a
discernible impact on the country's tourism, according to airline and search data.
The populist protests, in which working- and middle-class
participants are taking aim at government policies that they say have
benefited the wealthy, have brought hundreds of thousands of people to the
streets for mass demonstrations that began in mid-November. Protesters have
blocked streets, set cars ablaze, fought with police and even briefly halted access to some airports.
Images of chaos in the streets, however, do not appearing to
be dissuading travelers.
According to aviation analytics company OAG, scheduled
airline seat capacity from France for the winter season is up by more than 10%
year-over-year, a figure that OAG senior analyst John Grant called "remarkably
Grant added that early indications are that the Yellow Vest
movement won't hurt airlift this summer. "There is no sign of a slowdown,"
The picture seen by Hopper (an app that predicts when fares
on specific itineraries will bottom out) is somewhat more complicated. A Hopper
analysis of flight searches from early November through Jan. 5 shows that
demand for flights to France from the U.S. rose 5% from the fall shoulder
season. While that's an increase, it's much smaller than the 15% increase that
Hopper says is typical.
Still, the volume of searches for flights from the U.S. to
France was up 75% year over year from Nov. 1 through Jan. 5.
"Additionally, no clear correlation can be found
between the timing or size of the protests and change in relative interest for
the destination," Hopper chief data scientist Patrick Surry wrote. "This
combined with the fact that Hopper has not seen a significant change in the
number of bookings for such flights would suggest that France remains a very
popular destination for Americans, despite the protest still currently
The next day of Yellow Vest protests across France is
scheduled for this Saturday, Jan. 12.