Tour operators are planning around the Paris Olympics

Tour operators are split on their approach to Paris travel during the 2024 Summer Olympics, with some promoting the event and others avoiding it.

Some suppliers see the Olympic Games, which run from July 26 to Aug. 11, as a draw for travelers who may want to experience the City of Light during the quadrennial event, and they are actively marketing the destination during that period. 

Others are steering clear of Paris during the Games, going so far as to cancel departures to the destination because of sky-high hotel rates and airfare, plus larger-than-usual crowds expected to descend upon the city.

Tauck, Alexander + Roberts and AmaWaterways are among suppliers not offering trips in or around Paris during the Games. TTC Tour Brands will operate multicountry trips that include France but no France-only trips during the Olympics. 

Tauck said it learned the hard way to never operate trips in a host city during the Olympics after it tried and failed in Los Angeles in 1984. 

Globus will offer Paris tours during the Olympics.

“It was an unmitigated disaster,” said Jennifer Tombaugh, president of Tauck. “Hotels are incredibly expensive. Venues that guests want to visit are often closed or inaccessible. And traffic is terrible. Never again will we operate during the Olympics.”

Amadeus River Cruises, Avalon Waterways and Globus are among operators offering trips in and around Paris during the Olympics, with Scott Dunn doing so on a case-by-case basis.

Globus and its river brand, Avalon, will offer Paris tours and Seine River cruises during the Games and will offer fixed hotel rates and airfare so travelers won’t be hit with price hikes closer to the event.

“We’re operating during that period, and the good news for travelers who want to experience Paris during that time is that we have guaranteed hotels, guaranteed rates, and there’s no price fluctuation, so we’re a sure thing,” said Steve Born, chief marketing officer for the Globus family of brands.

Scott Dunn, a custom luxury tour operator, will offer Paris trips that include access to Olympic events on a case-by-case basis for clients who are members of the company’s invitation-only program, Scott Dunn Private. 

“Many hotels have an 18-night minimum stay at rack rates in place during the Games, so guests that are traveling need to have large budgets and be willing to pay the increased rates for the Olympic period,” said Nick Cunningham, destinations manager for Europe at Scott Dunn. “We have our black book of contacts who can get our guests into the various sporting events and opening/closing ceremonies.”

For other guests, Scott Dunn said it will operate trips in France outside of Paris during the Games.

Suppliers offering Paris during the Games are exercising some level of caution around travel to the city at that time.

The events could impact operations that force itinerary changes, and the brands are calling on guests to be flexible and patient.

“There could be some minor operational changes depending on construction or routing — we don’t know yet — but we’re well-versed in navigating around the Olympics as we’ve lived through all those before,” Born said.

The Amadeus Diamond on the Seine.

Some suppliers offering trips to France and Paris around the Olympics haven’t seen high demand, which they attribute to hefty airfares. 

“We are not seeing a huge influx of bookings,” said Melissa DaSilva, president of TTC Tour Brands. “I think that has to do with the fact that airfares into France at the end of June through mid-August are ridiculous right now. Once airlines start to bring the prices down a bit, you’ll start to see an increase in seats sold to the region, but right now it’s cost-prohibitive.”

  • Related: How river cruise lines are tackling the Paris Olympics

Marcus Leskovar, executive vice president at Amadeus River Cruises, said there has been “a little bit of a downturn and hesitancy” with its Paris sailings, due in part to expensive air. 

Avalon said its fixed air rate, $599 roundtrip, for guests visiting Paris during the Olympics mitigates that issue.

“You’re not going to get air to go to Paris for $599 during the Olympics,” said Pamela Hoffee, Avalon’s president. “So if there are people who want to participate in some of the activities around the Games and extend their trip by taking a river cruise, I think it’s a great opportunity.”

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