People, Travel

New Paris Headache: Strikes and Protests

New Paris Headache: Strikes and ProtestsNew Paris Headache: Strikes and Protests

As Paris tourism struggles to overcome last November’s Islamist attacks, the world’s most visited city faces a new threat: a wave of protests and further planned strikes, tourism officials warned on Monday.

Labor unions have scheduled stoppages that threaten to disrupt transport for millions of visitors and fans hoping to follow the Euro 2016 soccer tournament from June 10 onwards, after weeks of violence-marred street protests against planned labor reforms.

“The scenes of guerrilla-type action in central Paris, beamed around the world, reinforce the feeling of fear and misunderstanding from visitors in an already angst-filled climate,” Frederic Valletoux, head of the Paris region tourist board said in a statement.

“There is still time to save the tourist season by putting an end to these blockades that are being shown the world over.”

Bookings for June to August are down 20% to 50% from a year ago, Reuters reported.

French trade association GNI said in a statement last week it feared “massive” booking cancellations by foreign tourists.

“A strike of that scope a few weeks before Euro 2016 and at the heart of the tourist season is more than unacceptable,” it said.

France, which is seeking to revive its economy, depends heavily on tourism, which generates over 7% of national gross domestic product and over 13% of that of the Ile-de-France region, which includes Paris.

About 2.5 million spectators are expected for Euro 2016, which starts on June 10 for a month. The CGT labor union has called for another big national street protest in Paris on June 14.

France is the most-visited country in the world, with almost 85 million foreigners last year, around 16 million in Paris alone.