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Hotel bookings in France take a tumble in wake of Yellow Vest protests

A general view shows the illuminated Eiffel Tower (L), the Hotel des Invalides (R) and rooftops at night in Paris, France, November 28, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

The number of overnight stays in hotels in France slumped in the first quarter, especially in Paris, the national statistics office has said. It blamed the nationwide Yellow Vest protest movement for putting off foreign tourists.

In the first three months of 2019, the number of overnight stays in tourist accommodation in France fell 2.5 percent from the same period the year earlier, statistics office INSEE said.

Visits by foreigners fell the most dramatically, with a drop of 4.8 percent in overnight stays by non-residents recorded in the period.

The Ile-de-France region, which includes Paris, was hardest hit, with the number of overnight stays dropping 4.6 percent.

This was "probably due to the movement of the Yellow Vests," Insee said.

Usually held on Saturdays, the rallies, which began in November, have sometimes degenerated into clashes between demonstrators and police, with dramatic images beamed around the world.

Insee said by contrast that hotel occupancy increased almost five percent in coastal areas as French residents took advantage of dry and warm weather since the beginning of the year.

France is visited by more foreign tourists annually than any other nation with close to 90 million per year, despite a spate of attacks carried out by Islamist militants.