Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Counting on Americans in Paris-08 September, 2009

Tourism was down in the first half of this year but France is counting on American tourists to revive its ailing travel market.

Americans have long been the largest contingent of foreigners in France but after numbers dived earlier this year, there’s been a projected 1.1 percent increase in recent months, according to figures from the Paris Tourism Office.

France is “counting on the Americans” to boost tourism, according to Paul Roll, director of the Paris Tourism office. That would compensate for the plunge in visits by British, Japanese and Chinese tourists.

“He noted that America’s economy was hit early and hard by the financial crisis and is expected to emerge sooner, while other economies were slower to start their slump,” reports the AP.

"The pound is really low now and it's horrible," said Mark Abbott, a visitor to France.
Roll also pinned his hopes on a new law that allows more stores to open on Sundays, saying that could keep more tourists in Paris, and France generally, over a full weekend. Currently most French stores are closed Sundays.

While the new law allows more stores in tourist zones to stay open, it is expected to be months before its effects are felt, said the AP.

Swine flu has apparently had little impact on tourism in France, where there have been only ten deaths related to the disease.

Jean-Bernard Bros, deputy mayor in charge of tourism at Paris City Hall, said the city has thousands of masks available in museums and monuments, and is studying flu prevention measures at key sites like the Eiffel Tower.

By David Wilkening
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