The steepest drops in French arrivals this year have been from visitors from Japan and China, far more than from the U.S. Ramping up security at attractions and also in crime-ridden areas will be an attractive message, at least, for tourists considering a jaunt to France.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls will unveil Monday extra measures to improve foreign visitors’ security after terrorist attacks and violent robberies deterred tourists from visiting.
France will spend EU43 million ($48 million) to strengthen law enforcement at major tourist landmarks including the Louvre museum and Mont Saint-Michel, and on board trains traveling to and from European neighbours. The government also plans to increase surveillance cameras where tourists have regularly been targeted by thieves, according to a copy of the plan emailed by Valls’ office. The draft document didn’t give details on the extra police forces that the state plans to deploy.
Tourism in France is down over 8 percent since January, almost a year after the country’s deadliest terror attacks since World War II. A series of coordinated attacks in and around Paris by Islamic State supporters killed 130 in November 2015. On July 14, 2016, a terrorist drove a truck into a Bastille Day crowd in Nice, killing 86 and deterring summer arrivals on the Cote d’Azur.
Socialist Prime Minister Valls will detail his plan in a government meeting in Paris, ahead of a Nov. 17 conference with travel industry professionals to discuss how to better promote tourism in France. In typical years, France has the largest number of foreign arrivals but lags the U.S. and Spain in tourism revenue.
Valls, who has floated a possible plan to run for president in next year’s election, will include EU4 million of state subsidies in the plan to help concert halls, theaters and other performing-art venues suffering from lower occupancy. He will also give over EU5 million to subsidize French people to travel abroad through the national vacation subsidies system.
Foreign visitors arriving by air were down 8.1 percent from January to end-October, according to government figures. The steepest drop was for arrivals from Japan, down 39 percent, with Chinese arrivals down 23 percent. US and British tourists were both down 4 percent. Indian tourists, by contrast, were up 6 percent. The number of hotel nights spent by foreign tourists was down 11.8 percent between January and mid-October, with a drop of 20.8 percent in the Paris region.
To contact the reporter on this story: Helene Fouquet in Paris at [email protected] To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alan Crawford at [email protected], Geraldine Amiel, David Whitehouse
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Photo credit: France is tightening security at landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower as tourism has plunged following terrorist attacks. gckwolfe / Flickr.com