Wealthy Travelers Seemingly Uninterested in Being in Paris for Olympics

Americans are going to Paris this summer, just not the rich ones

Paris, France, where the 2024 Summer Olympics will be held. According to luxury travel agencies, there is lackluster demand for travel to the Olympics among wealthy Americans.
Who needs Paris crowds when you can watch the Olympics from your Italian villa?
Getty Images

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo were held behind closed doors. The city was under a state of emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which had also postponed the global sporting event until 2021, and international spectators were unable to watch the Games in-person. It would make sense, then, that those denied the opportunity to rub elbows with the athletes would be keen to get to Paris this summer for a redo.

There certainly is an element of truth to that. According to travel agency Virtuoso, while summer bookings for France are down 22% from the same period last year, Paris bookings are up 172%. In total, between 2.3 and 3.1 million unique visitors with tickets to the Games are expected to visit Paris. But, in a perhaps strange turn of events, an underwhelming portion of those visitors will be of the wealthy American variety.

Per a new report from Reuters, U.S.-based luxury travel agencies are seeing “lackluster” demand for the Paris Olympics, with more affluent travelers heading instead to other nearby European destinations. In fact, European luxury retailers LVMH and Cartier have reportedly pivoted their strategy, focusing more on business outside of France during the Games, while luxury properties, the Four Seasons among them, still have availability in Paris.

Still, outside of France (of the unique visitors, 64% are French), the U.S. is, to date, the market with the most flight tickets issued for arrivals to Paris during the Olympics.

Paris’s Upscale Hotels Are Getting Flexible for Olympic Guests
The last time Paris hosted the Summer Games was in 1924

All of that said, it’s worth noting that travelers with more disposable income don’t necessarily have to be as cognizant of solidifying plans too far in advance of their trip, even for the Olympics. Room rates are expected to rise 73% in August, though anyone who is willing to pay top dollar to fly to and stay in Paris will have no problem doing so. Rather, it’s the budget-conscious travelers who are wary of spending a premium who have already secured their airfare and accommodations — and likely not at the Four Seasons, either. Stefan Di-Finizio, founder of the Prelude, a Miami-based luxury travel concierge, confirmed as much.

“Given the nature of the clients we deal with and the Olympics not being until July, I expect we will start getting a lot more requests closer towards mid to the end of June,” Di-Finizio told Reuters.

However, if there isn’t a last-minute uptick in bookings among the well-heeled, would you blame them? If there’s anything worth traveling for, it’s the Olympics, yet Paris was named one of the worst destinations for overtourism last year. Albeit a necessity due to Covid, Tokyo 2020 proved a “watershed moment in the history of Olympic broadcasting” when they became the most watched Olympic Games ever on digital platforms.

Would you take on the hordes of other visitors in Paris during the hottest month of the calendar year with the knowledge that you’d likely enjoy the same level of access from the comfort of your own (presumably expensive) couch? I’d venture to guess not.


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