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PARIS (Reuters) - Tourism in France, the world's top holiday destination, held up over the summer months because a rise in domestic holidaymakers offset a sharp drop in foreign visitors, government data showed on Wednesday.
Hotels in France saw visitor numbers rise 1 percent in July and August, breaking down into a 3.6 percent increase in July and a 1.2 percent fall in August, Herve Novelli, state secretary for tourism, said in a statement.
Tourism accounts for around 6 percent of France's gross domestic product and the government had forecast a marked decline for 2009 because of the economic crisis, extending last year's 3 percent drop.
Foreign visitor numbers did indeed dive in France over the summer, with a 14.5 percent fall in July-August underlining the tourism downturn that has hit cities, beaches and mountain resorts all over Europe.
Compensating for this, hotels, holiday homes and campsites recorded a 6.3 percent rise in the number of French customers.
"In terms of types of accommodation, we have noticed that French customers tend to stay in more moderately priced accommodation," the statement said.
Reporting by Sophie Hardach, editing by Tim Pearce