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Number of visitors drops amid fears of terror in France


08-13-2016 15:24 BJT

It’s the height of summer in Europe, but the number of foreign visitors has dropped across the continent as terrorism takes its toll on the tourism industry. And France, which has always been the number one destination for travelers, seems to be one of the countries hardest hit.

August is a traditionally quiet month in the French capital as Parisians traditionally leave the city for their holidays.

But this year it’s even quieter than normal … not because nervous travelers seem to be steering clear. 

Last year nearly 85 million foreigners visited France... making it the world’s number one tourist destination. 

But following a string of terror attacks, France may struggle to cling to that top spot... In the week after the Bastille Day terrorist massacre, the number of flights booked to Nice plummeted by more than half. 

And things are not looking too good for the rest of the summer. International flight bookings to France are down 20 percent for August and September. 

The hotel industry is also taking a big hit. For the first half of 2016, the number of overnight stays in hotels booked by foreign visitors was down 10 percent. 

And even the magic of Disney has not escaped the downturn … with Disneyland Paris reporting an 11 percent drop in visitors between April and June this year. 

Camouflaged soldiers armed with assault rifles are highly visible around tourist sites. There are 10,000 troops deployed across the country. They are meant to reassure tourists. But they are also a reminder of how real the terror threat is.

And it’s not just France that’s suffering...

Hotel chains, airlines and tour operators have reported a downturn in business in Germany and Belgium as well following attacks there.

Tourism is a vital sector in France, accounting for 7% of GDP, and the government is keen to lure people back. So they’ve launched a new advertising campaign depicting picnics in the park and other summery scenes in Paris. The message is — even in a state of emergency, life here does go on. But with terror attacks on the rise and shocking images from the news still fresh in people’s minds, it may take more than a few glossy photos to get tourists flocking back to France.

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