Last updated: 09:02 AM ET, Thu April 07 2016

How France is Urging Visitors to Return

Destination & Tourism | Robin Amster | April 07, 2016

How France is Urging Visitors to Return

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Paris has been “extremely shaken” by the recent terror attacks both in the city and in its Belgian neighbor Brussels but while tourism has been impacted, “the government is doing absolutely everything in its power to ensure the safety and security of visitors,” according to Pierre Schapira, president of the Paris Convention and Visitor Bureau.

Schapira and other French tourism officials spoke to press at the Rendez-vous en France trade fair in Montpellier which ended yesterday [April 6].  Nearly 900 tour operators from 73 countries and 740 French companies—representing accommodations, attractions, marketing organizations and more—took part in the event, which is in its 11th year.

Francois Navarro, managing director of the regional tourism board of Paris-Ile-de-France, said tourism to Paris dropped 10 percent this past November, 20 percent in December, and 10 percent from January to February, 2016.

READ MORE: 5 Popular Family-Friendly Destinations in France

These figures came in the wake of the multiple terror attacks in Paris in November which claimed 130 lives. They were preceded by the attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris in January of 2015 and followed by the most recent attack on the Brussels airport and the Maalbeek metro station in Brussels just last month.

“We hope that April and May will be a kick starter for renewed tourism to Paris,” said Navarro. He said that while the Italian, Japanese and Korean visitor markets to the French capital had fallen off, the U.S. and Chinese markets appeared to be faring better.

Current visitor figures have not yet been released, but Paris’ information centers welcomed 570,000 international visitors in 2015, according to the Paris CVB.

READ MORE: Why You Should Visit France in 2016

Schapira meanwhile said the city is “constantly rejuvenating its amazing cultural offerings.” One of the goals is also to go “over and above” to draw visitors—especially repeat visitors—outside the city to greater Paris and beyond.

Navarro agreed. The French capital has decided to team with the Normandy region to, among other things, come up with a series of promotional offers for visitors, he said.

The famed Impressionism movement in art, for example, may have actually been born in Normandy but was nurtured in Paris, he said. Giverney in Normandy, where Claude Monet lived and worked, was influential in the movement, while Paris’ Musee d’Orsay now has an immense and world-famous collection of Impressionist art.

In fact, the next Rendez-vous en France is slated to be held next year in Rouen, the capital of Normandy.


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