Louvre museum visitors dropped more than 70% in virus-wracked 2020

The Louvre, the world’s largest museum, was hit by a 70 percent drop in visitors last year because Covid restrictions kept art lovers away, it said on Friday.

Revenue decreased by more than 90 million euros (110 million dollars) compared to 2019.

The Louvre, which was closed for six months during the French lock-up of coronavirus, saw the number of visitors drop to 2.7 million in 2020, from 9.6 million in 2019 and 10.2 million in 2018, which was a record year.

Visits from foreigners, especially from the United States, China, Japan and Brazil, which usually make up three quarters of the total visits, all but dried up, especially during the usually hectic summer months.

The museum managed to limit the damage with its magnificent Leonardo da Vinci exhibition, which attracted 1.1 million visitors and ended before the first French lock in the spring.

The Louvre also used downtime to increase its digital offering, with the number of online subscribers increasing by over one million from 2019 to 9.3 million, and the website louvre.fr registered 21 million hits.

It also found new ways to raise money, including the global distribution of the documentary “A Night at the Louvre: Leonardo da Vinci”, intended for cinemas, and “Bid for the Louvre”, which it said had raised 2, 4 million euros through an auction of works by living artists and of “once in a lifetime experiences”.

A live-streamed New Year’s concert by DJ and songwriter David Guetta, part of a fundraiser, attracted 16 million views.

The French government reported on Friday that tourism revenues had fallen by 61 billion euros, or 41 percent, by 2020 to 89 billion.

Tourism Minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne called the annual deficit “a shock”, but said France – the world’s top tourist destination – had weathered Covid relatively well.

“France has been more resilient than other world destinations,” he told France Televison thanks to visitors from neighboring countries and French people on holiday at home.