Disneyland Paris attracts a million fewer visitors

Disneyland Paris attracts a million fewer visitors
Disneyland, Chessy, outside Paris.

PARIS - Disneyland Paris attracted a million fewer visitors this year after a record 2012, its operator said Thursday, as the debt crisis in Europe hurt demand in the tourism sector.

Visitorship fell to 14.9 million for the financial year ending September, compared to 16 million in 2012, the theme park's operator Euro Disney said.

The slump was mostly due to a drop in French visitors -- who fell by 600,000. The theme park also recorded fewer Spanish and Italian visitors, although more British and Germans turned up.

Overall sales slipped 1.1 per cent to 1.31 billion euros ($1.75 billion) for the year.

Although the group managed to cut its net loss for the year by 25 per cent to 64.4 million euros, that was only achieved through a 1.3 billion-euro refinancing from its US parent firm Walt Disney Company.

"2013 was a challenging year for Europe's tourism and leisure industry. We felt this in theme park attendance and hotel occupancy, notably with fewer guests coming from France and Southern Europe," said Euro Disney chief executive officer Philippe Gas.

The theme park's hotels recorded 105,000 fewer room nights sold.

Nevertheless, the chief executive was optimistic that the visitors would return.

"We need to continue investing to increase the spending per visitor. And when the crisis eases, the volumes will return," said Gas.

"The tourism industry is suffering from an economic problem, not a problem of demand or disenchantment," he added.

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