French tourism minister says hotel stays down 10 percent in July due to attacks

07 Aug, 2016 7:48 pm

PARIS – The number of nights spent in French hotels by foreign tourists fell 10 percent in July compared to last year as visitors from outside Europe were deterred by recent Islamist militant attacks, the tourism minister was cited as saying on Sunday.

France’s tourism industry, an important driver of its economy, has suffered since Islamic State gunmen killed 130 people in an attack in Paris last year. It was dealt further blows in July when a militant killed 85 people by ramming a truck into crowds in the Riviera city Nice.

Two weeks later, two men killed a priest in a small town in Normandy.

High-spending visitors from the United States, Asia and the Gulf in particular had been discouraged by the attacks, Matthias Fekl said in an interview with Sunday newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.

Tourists from other European countries, who make up about 80 percent of visitors, were still coming to France, he said.

The first six months of the year had also seen a 10 percent decline in the number of stays compared to a year ago, Fekl told the newspaper.

The impact was most felt in Paris and the region around the capital, with tourist stays in other regions showing a 2 percent increase in the January-June period, he said.

Weak activity in France contributed to a fall in first-half operating profit for French group AccorHotels (ACCP.PA), and Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) has said it expects its unit revenues to decline in July and August, partly due to the situation in France.

Tourism professionals also say negative perceptions about France have been fuelled by violent street protests this year as well as robberies targeting Asian visitors.

Economic uncertainty and weakness in sterling following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union have also raised concerns about British tourist spending, and Fekl said the initial impact would be measured at the end of the summer. -Reuters

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