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Pandemic shatters ‘flourishing’ Paris tourism

/ 02:33 AM August 28, 2020

Paris, France — Tourism in Paris, one of the world’s most visited cities, has plunged due to the coronavirus, sparking fears of mass closures for thousands of businesses that rely on eager visitors from home and abroad, its senior regional official said Thursday.

Due to COVID-19, 14 million less tourists explored the French capital in the first six months of the year compared to last year, the right-wing Ile-de-France (Paris region) president Valerie Pecresse said.

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“Tourism is an extremely precious economic activity for Ile-de-France which represents 500,000 jobs and 7 to 8 percent of regional growth,” Pecresse said at a press conference.

“For the past four years, we had been announcing record number of visitors. So it is with great sadness that we have seen the pandemic shatter an extremely dynamic and flourishing sector,” Pecresse added.

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The income generated by tourism fell from 10.2 billion euros ($12 billion) from January to June 2019 to 3.8 billion euros ($4,5 billion) over the same period in 2020.

As many planes remain grounded and long-haul flights limited, 68 percent fewer international tourists visited the city of lights, whereas the drop was of 54 percent for national tourists.

Tourists from abroad tend to spend between twice and three times as much as those who live in France, meaning that the fall in income was that much sharper.

Half of the region’s businesses expect an improvement of affairs by the end of October, thanks to French clients and tourists from neighbouring European countries.

But the 80 percent drop of reservations for long-haul flights means many entrepreneurs remain wary.

Paris and its region are a safe destination, Pecresse said Thursday, adding that she was dismayed to see that Germany and Belgium had marked the region as a risky destination.

The Ile-de-France region is working on a health security label, comprising of very strict measures, to reassure foreign tourists, Pecresse said.

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France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Thursday that face masks will become compulsory throughout Paris after a recent surge in cases.

Masks are already obligatory on public transport nationwide and in most enclosed public spaces.

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TAGS: COVID-19, France, Health, pandemic, Paris, Tourism, Virus
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