Bumper year for tourism in France, despite terror attacks

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TRAVEL GAZETTE – FRANCE drew a record high of 84.5 million foreign tourists in 2015, despite terror attacks that rocked the French capital in January and November, government figures have shown.

Thanks to its wealthy history and abundant cultural and natural heritages, France saw the number of foreign holidaymakers rising by 0.9 percent.

In its report, the foreign ministry which is also in charge of tourism portfolio attributed last year’s momentum to “a dramatic increase in the number of Asian tourists,” which jumped by 22.7 percent.

The lion’s share of Asian visitors came from China which had provided 2.2 million tourists in 2015 while 500,000 Indian tourists were numbered over the period, showing increasing infatuation for France.

With euro weakening, holidaymakers coming from the United States were more interested to enjoy shopping and diverse culture heritage in Paris as the market grew by 15.2 percent.

However, regarding arrivals of European tourists, those from Germany and Switzerland fell by 9.2 percent and 6.5 percent respectively, while south Mediterranean markets such as Italy and Spain recorded a rise of 6.5 percent and 4.9 percent respectively, according to the ministry figures.

French iconic city had been stunned by terrorist attacks twice last year leaving about 150 victims raising questions about the country’s security and making tourists hesitating to visit the most visited country.

According to research firm MKG Group, assaults cost French hoteliers an estimated 270 million euros (307.74 million U.S. dollar) in lost revenue with hotel bookings slumped sharply on high terror alert.

Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he is committed to actively promoting France as a tourist destination.

“My goal remains to attract 100 million foreign tourists per year to France from 2020 onwards,” he added.

With the aim, he pledged to facilitate visa application process to make easier for tourists to come to France.


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