People, Travel

France Expecting Record Number of Tourists

France Expecting Record Number of TouristsFrance Expecting Record Number of Tourists

France is on course to welcome a record number of tourists this year, helping boost sector revenue by about 4 percent, minister for foreign affairs and tourism, Laurent Fabius, said.

Revenue from tourism last year represented 7 percent of France’s economic activity and brought in revenue of €150 billion, France24 reported.

With the attractions of the capital Paris, its Loire Valley chateaux, Alpine ski resorts, Riviera beaches and gastronomic pleasures, France has been the world’s most visited country since the 1980s.

But visitors tend to spend less in France than elsewhere, something the government has been trying to change by extending store opening hours and improving the much maligned customer service.

Fabius warned back in 2014 that the famed French surliness was a pothole on the road to tourism victory: “The logic is simple. An unhappy tourist is a tourist who never comes back.”

The TripAdvisor website frequently votes Paris the rudest city in Europe, and the Paris Tourist Board went as far as to issue service industry workers a “politeness manual” back in 2013.

Despite these hurdles, Fabius said, “I hope that the number of tourists will surpass 85 million this year.”

He added that he expected those visitors also to increase the amount they spent.

The tourist boost comes as welcome news for the government, which has been struggling to reverse high unemployment and boost growth, which stagnated in the second quarter after expanding by 0.7 percent in the first.

The weakening of the euro and recent terrorist attacks in North Africa have also helped attract visitors to Paris, about one-third of whom come from outside France.

Fabius said there had been limited impact on tourism to Paris after the attacks on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January.

“And although the numbers of visitors to Paris has remained stable this year, reservations at hotels are actually down,” said the minister.