Paris spending to boost tourism

Paris Focused On Encouraging Tourism Again A Year After Terror Filled Its Streets

Tourists have remained fearful of gracing the City of Light following last year’s terror-filled incidents brought on by jihadists who brutally murdered 130 people. One year later, tourism in Paris alone is expected to see $1.6 billion less in revenue.

Frederic Valletoux spoke with AFP on the subject, noting the reality that remains.

“We haven’t recovered, The impact is lasting and completely unprecedented…. Many small businesses are on their knees.”

However, the government of France is working to relieve fears by planning to unveil a 42-million-euro plan that will boost security in tourist areas. In addition. 10 million has been allotted for promotional means. Prime Minister Manuel Valls released a statement on the subject.

“We must say it clearly. Tourism in France is going through a difficult period.”

The security measures are to be tightened around prime tourist areas such as the Louvre, the most frequented museum in the world. The iconic institution saw a 20 percent drop in visitors this past year.

Over the past months there has been a drop of 8 percent of tourist arrivals, mainly between the months of January and October. The French government has set a goal of attracting 100 million visitors in 2020 which is a great increase to the 85 million welcomed this past year. Officials had been hopeful that the Euro football championship, which was hosted in the nation this past July, would reverse the trend that has seen tourists keeping their distance. However, the tail end of the competition took a massive hit with the Bastille Day truck rampage in Nice that took an additional 86 lives.

“‘People are afraid because it’s not just one thing but a series’ of attacks in France, said Serbian tourist Vladimir Mitrasinovic, a London-based tech executive who was visiting Paris for a reunion.”

Head of the hotel industry association in France Roland Heguy shares that restaurants both in Paris and the Riviera are getting hit hard by the lull in tourism. He shares that the summer months, which are usually the peak tourist season, “were very bad for [the] sector.”

In addition to the attacks causing the brunt of the tourist downturn, some responsibility is given to the large street protests over labor reforms that turned violent frequently. Other deterrents include a series of thefts targeting Asian visitors of the past years. Over January to October of this year, there was therefore a 39 percent decrease in Japanese tourists visiting France and 23 percent less Chinese visitors.

“Asian tourists — all tourists — must know that they are safe in France,” Valls’ office said.

Metal detector wands have begun to be implemented at stores in the nation, such as Printemps, a top department store. The wands were implemented a year ago after the attack in November.

“I’m afraid it doesn’t look like (shopping tourism) is coming back,” said Liu, 37, who has worked at Printemps for four years. She shared that the robberies targeting Chinese was one of the reasons that has kept Asian tourists away.

“But the sense that France isn’t safe is especially because of the attacks,” Liu said.

However, some tourists share that they have not been deterred by the attack that occurred last fall. Danish tourist Jens Peter Frahm-Hansen shares his stance on the attacks, noting that fear is what these extremists want us to feel, but that we can’t succumb to it because they will continue with their plight regardless.

“You shouldn’t be afraid of these types of people, that’s what they want,” the 64-year-old retired Kodak executive said.

His friend Mitrasinovic, who was affected by the London bombings in 2005, said, “Most of us think it won’t stop, so we won’t change our plans.”

Frahm-Hansen went on to share why they chose to make Paris the meeting point for him and his former work colleagues.

“We could have gone anywhere else, but we chose Paris,” he said. “The sun is the same everywhere, but Paris is Paris. It’s unique and you have to see it.”

[Featured Image by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]