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France sets new tourist record despite Yellow Vest unrest

Something to see: Mont Saint-Michel and its famous bay, both listed as World Heritage sites by Unesco. © Anibas Photography-CDT50

France welcomed nearly 90 million foreign tourists last year, a new record for the country despite the wave of anti-government protests that prompted many visitors to cancel trips.

"France remained the world's top destination in 2018," the government's tourism committee said in a statement.

The total of 89.4 million visitors was a three percent jump from 2017, and France is now targeting 100 million foreign tourists for 2020.

The biggest increase came from Asian visitors, up 7.4 percent from the previous year. Europeans still make up the bulk of foreign tourists to France, representing 79 percent of the total.

The national statistics office has already indicated another bumper year for tourism, saying last month it had counted 438.2 million nights spent in hotels, campsites and youth hostels in 2018, an increase of nine million from the previous year.

And that figure doesn't include the figures from home-sharing platforms like Airbnb, which has 65,000 listed apartments in Paris alone.

Tourist spending reached a record as well, with a five percent increase from the previous year to 56.2 billion euros, the government said on Friday.