Paris loses $1.1b in tourist takings

Terror attacks, labour strikes, floods have led to industrial disaster: Regional tourism head

PARIS • Islamist attacks, strikes and floods kept foreign tourists away from the French capital in the first half of the year and cost the Paris region tourism industry some €750 million (S$1.14 billion) in lost revenue, officials said yesterday.

"It's time to realise that the tourism sector is going through an industrial disaster. This is no longer the time for communication campaigns but to set up a relief plan," Mr Frederic Valletoux, head of the Paris region tourist board, said in a statement.

He said massive investments were needed to protect jobs in the sector and he urged Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to quickly meet local tourism officials.

About 500,000 people in Ile-de-France have jobs linked to tourism, making it the biggest industry in the region. France, which is seeking to revive its economy, depends heavily on tourism, which generates over 7 per cent of national gross domestic product and over 13 per cent of that of the Ile-de- France region, which includes Paris, the world's most visited city.

France's tourism industry has suffered since Islamic State in Iraq and Syria gunmen killed 130 people in an attack in Paris last year.

It was dealt further blows in July when a gunman drove a truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day on July 14 in the Riviera city of Nice.

Paris' Eiffel Tower a day after the Bastille Day attack in France. The world's most-visited country depends heavily on tourism, which generates over 7 per cent of national gross domestic product.
Paris' Eiffel Tower a day after the Bastille Day attack in France. The world's most-visited country depends heavily on tourism, which generates over 7 per cent of national gross domestic product. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Two weeks later, two men killed a priest in a small town in Normandy. Strikes against a controversial labour reform and floods in June also deterred tourists.

  • 500k

    People in Ile-de-France with jobs linked to tourism.

    7%

    What tourism generates in national gross domestic product.

Nightly hotel stays were down 8.5 per cent in the Ile-de-France region in the first half, with an 11.5 per cent decline for foreign tourists and a 4.8 per cent drop for French tourists.

Japanese visitors were down 46.2 per cent in the first half compared with the same period last year, while Russians were down 35 per cent, Chinese down 19.6 per cent, and Americans down 5.7 per cent, the Paris region tourist board statement said.

France is the most-visited country in the world, with almost 85 million foreigners last year, including 16 million in Paris.

Weak activity in France contributed to a fall in first-half operating profit for French group AccorHotels. Air France-KLM has said it expects its unit revenues to decline in July and August, partly due to the situation in France.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2016, with the headline 'Paris loses $1.1b in tourist takings'. Print Edition | Subscribe