Paris tourism makes strong recovery

Paris can jump for joy as it welcomes back more tourists, such as these visitors from China posing for photos at the Eiffel Tower.
Paris can jump for joy as it welcomes back more tourists, such as these visitors from China posing for photos at the Eiffel Tower.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • Tourism in Paris, which plunged after a series of terrorist attacks in 2015, has recovered strongly, new national data shows.

The French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies said visitor numbers at the end of last year were similar to those from the end of 2014, suggesting that France would maintain its status as the world's most-visited country.

The number of visitors fell after a deadly attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 and coordinated assaults around Paris in November that year.

Tourists, both foreign and domestic, seem to have accepted the idea that they may have to live with some danger, and that a city like Paris will never be completely safe.

Restaurateurs, hotel owners and museum officials confirmed the uptick in recent months and expressed hope that the trend would continue this year.

In January this year, the number of people checking into Paris hotels reached a 10-year high of just over 1.5 million, a 6.4 per cent rise from the same month three years earlier.

French tourists were the first to return, said Mr Charles-Henri Boisseau, who tabulated the numbers for the Paris tourism office's monthly economic report. Then American and Chinese tourists came back - their numbers last December were up 30 per cent and 40 per cent from December 2014.

Other factors helped these positive trends, Mr Boisseau said. The euro is cheaper against the United States dollar than before the attacks, which makes it more attractive for Americans to travel to the euro zone. And the Chinese tourism market continued to grow last year, rising 4.3 per cent from 2015.

The French government had also allocated €10 million (S$15 million) last year to promote France as a tourist destination. Other measures - such as tighter security checks at museums and more police officers and soldiers in the streets - were also aimed at restoring a sense of security, officials said.

Tourists Sharon and Dan McLaughlin, a couple from New York, had praise for Paris. "There is a lot of police around and I feel very safe," Ms McLaughlin said.

Tourist numbers from Japan and other European countries, however, have yet to rebound at the same rates as those from the US and China.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2017, with the headline 'Paris tourism makes strong recovery'. Print Edition | Subscribe