One sentence about an operator of sightseeing tours says it all: "Another six months of slow business may force him to quit."
There’s nothing Jean-Remi Galinon enjoys more than bouncing along cobbled streets and showing off Paris to foreign tourists, usually Americans, in his most iconic of French vintage cars.
France is from Wednesday tentatively opening up its borders to a select group of non-EU countries, but the United States, where COVID-19 cases are still soaring, is not on the list.
“The Americans are our No. 1 tourists, for sure,” Galinon said, the very image of Gallic sangfroid as he cruised along a cafe-lined boulevard with his sunglasses on and the 2CV’s canvas roof rolled back.
“They are in love with Paris … (and) we’re suffering the consequences (of the travel ban).”
Tourism is part of the lifeblood of the city, one of the world’s most visited, so for Galinon, Paris’s springtime lockdown could hardly have been worse.
“It was just surreal,” Galinon said. “March, April, May are an important period for us. And even more so as the weather was beautiful. So it was a double punishment.. (and) Paris without tourists is not really Paris.”
Border restrictions within the EU have been removed, and the “safe list” of 14 other countries from which the bloc will allow non-essential travel is now coming into force.
But it could be a while before the U.S. visitors who Galinon’s boss Marc Vernhet is banking on are able to return.
Vernhet has relied on state aid to stay afloat during the lockdown and says another six months of slow business may force him to quit.
(Reporting by Yiming Woo; writing by Richard Lough; editing by John Stonestreet)
Copyright (2020) Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions
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Photo credit: A Citroen 2CV car of the Paris company 2CVParisTour.com is seen parked in front of the Sacre-Coeur basilica of Montmartre in Paris, France, June 26, 2020. Paris has suffered a lack of tourism due to the pandemic, as the example of city sightseeing tours in a Citroen 2CV shows. Benoit Tessier / Reuters