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Paris on Charm Offensive After Tourists Stay Away

The Ile-de-France region has seen a drop of 1 million visitors from January to August.The Ile-de-France region has seen a drop of 1 million visitors from January to August.

The Ile-de-France region, which includes the capital Paris, has suffered a major blow to its tourism over the past year. Its president hopes to rectify this with a series of new initiatives from English lessons for bus drivers to mobile police stations.

According to regional president, Valerie Pecresse, the Ile-de-France has seen a drop of 1 million visitors and €1 billion ($1.1 billion) between January and August this year, Thelocal.fr reported.

"We are going through an extremely difficult period," she admitted, citing both terror attacks and bad weather as reasons why tourists are turning away from Paris.

On Sunday, Pecresse unveiled her six-point plan to boost tourism in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche, with measures focused on making Paris and the surrounding area more accessible for non-French speakers, as well as helping tourists feel safer in France.

In total, the region will devote €23 million to tourism in 2017.

The plan includes recruiting English-speaking students as intern tour guides, paid €250 for two weeks' work and stationed in airports and other areas frequented by tourists, and introducing training sessions to teach basic English to those involved in the sector, such as bus drivers and restaurant staff.

Another measure to facilitate tourism is the planned creation of a CityPass, which will serve both as a ticket on public transport and for entry into popular tourist attractions.

The region's website will also get an overhaul—and a smartphone app—allowing tourists to better plan their visit, with information such as opening times and prices all in one place.

From January 2017, mobile police stations will be set up at tourist sites and the intimidating term "state of emergency" will be renamed to "state of high security".

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