• France edition
 
'Be nicer' - France's plan to boost tourist numbers
Be nicer to tourists. Thats the French plan that they hope will help boost tourist numbers. Photo: Shutterstock

'Be nicer' - France's plan to boost tourist numbers

Published: 19 Jun 2014 14:15 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Jun 2014 14:15 GMT+02:00

France unveiled plans on Thursday to boost tourism and said it needed to eradicate its surly reputation as its status as the world's top destination for foreign visitors faces increasingly stiff competition.

Speaking at the close of a national conference on tourism, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the government had fixed a target of attracting 100 million foreign tourists annually compared to 83 million in 2012.

"The logic is simple," said Fabius: "An unhappy tourist is a tourist that never comes back."

Accompanying him, commerce minister Fleur Pellerin said France would try to iron out inconveniences faced by tourists, especially in getting visas.

She also said the country needed to "recover a sense of hospitality" as "too often we mistake service with servility" and said authorities should use the Internet better to promote tourism.

France - and particularly Paris - has a reputation of being unfriendly to tourists especially if they do not speak French, and waiters are widely viewed as rude.

Are Parisians really that rude to tourists? We ask the visitors.

The French capital's image has also suffered from muggings and other attacks on tourists, especially well-heeled Chinese travellers lured to a city they see as an epitome of fashion, luxury and culture.

More than one million Chinese visitors come to France every year, and the government would like to increase that figure.

But several well-publicised attacks on Chinese tourists - such as the robbery of a group of 23 Chinese visitors in a restaurant shortly after they landed in March last year -- have cast a cloud on this desire.

"Tourism is not an amusing or secondary matter... the stakes are the same as exports," Pellerin said.

At stake is much-needed cash at a time of dire crisis in France, particularly when neighbouring Britain is claiming that Paris has lost its mantle to London as the world's top destination for foreign tourists.

Reviving the traditional Britain-France rivalry, French authorities dispute this and say the City of Light is still the top draw.

Fabius said the tourism action plan would focus on five different areas - gastronomy and wine, sport and mountains, ecotourism, luxury and artisan work, and urban tourism.

He said he would also work to classify more sites as tourist zones to allow more shops and eateries to remain open on Sundays, particularly around Boulevard Haussman, where France's famous Grands Magasins are located.

"A tourist who finds the shop closed on Sundays will not wait until Thursday," said Fabius, lining up for a war with France's trade unions, who have fought hard against sunday openings in recent months.

Fabius also said parts of Paris's Gare du Nord railway station would be renovated starting with the hall for those travelling by Eurostar to and from London.

"The Gare du Nord is Europe's leading railway station and it must be able to stand comparison with Saint Pancras" station in London, he said.

He also recognises there is a problem in getting to and from Charles de Gaulle airport. 

He plans to introduce a flat rate for the cost of a taxi to and from the airport. From January 2015 a lane on the A1 motorway will designated for cars going to and from the airport. 

Fabius also said work would begin on the new Paris Charles de Gaulle express line in 2017. 

"It's essential that tourists have safe and regular means of transport to get them into the centre of Paris, within 20 minutes," Fabius said.

Don't miss stories about France, join us on Facebook and Twitter

The Local/AFP (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
French unemployment hits new record high
Photo: AFP

French unemployment hits new record high

Unemployment in France hit a new record in September, with official statistics published Friday showing 3.43 million people claimed jobless benefits. READ  

French claim success in Isis air raids
Photo: AFP/ECPAD/EMA/ARMEE DE L'AIR

French claim success in Isis air raids

France's Chief of the Defense Staff Pierre de Villiers has claimed that air strikes on Thursday and Friday by French, US and allied aircraft "hurt" Islamic State forces. READ  

French website exposes EU budget letter
French President Francois Hollande. Photo: AFP

French website exposes EU budget letter

A confidential letter sent to France by the EU Commission demanding clarifications on its 2015 budget, which will break EU spending rules, was unveiled Friday by a French news website. READ  

Le Pen: France needs to take control of borders
Front National president Marine Le Pen speaks to the press during a visit in the city of Calais, northern France. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Le Pen: France needs to take control of borders

National Front leader Marine Le Pen visited the northern port city of Calais on Friday where tensions are high as authorities under increasing pressure to control the influx of illegal migrants trying to get to Britain. READ  

Burglar in the buff snared by French police
A burglar in the buff was snared red handed and bare-bottomed by French police this week. Photo: Shutterstock

Burglar in the buff snared by French police

French police were called out to a bizarre incident this week when they received calls from scared residents in villages in central France alerting them to the presence of a burglar who was targeting homes in the buff. READ  

France to bring in Ebola checks 'on all transport'
A passenger arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport is checked for Ebola. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

France to bring in Ebola checks 'on all transport'

French president François Hollande said on Friday that measures to counter the risk of Ebola reaching France will be increased with tests to be carried out on people arriving in France on “all forms of transport”, meaning boats as well as planes. READ  

French military chief: 'It's safe to say we hurt Isis'
France and its allies "hurt" Isis forces in Iraq, French military chief has said. Photo: AFP

French military chief: 'It's safe to say we hurt Isis'

The leader of France's armed forces said his country's military "hurt" Isis forces in a recent raid led by the international coalition battling the extremists in Iraq. READ  

What's on in France
What's on in France: 11 things to do in November
The annual cider festival in Le Sap Normandy, just one of the many things to do in France in November. Photo: JCMayzaud

What's on in France: 11 things to do in November

If you're short of ideas for what to do in France in November, we've gathered together a list of 11 events that are well worth checking out, especially if you're into art, wine, music or just can't wait to get in the Christmas spirit. READ  

Paris: Saudi robbed of €15k cash while dining
Relations between France and Saudi Arabia could soon be strained if Paris thieves are not stopped. Photo: Dominic Faget/AFP

Paris: Saudi robbed of €15k cash while dining

A man working for the Saudi Arabian embassy in Paris had a whopping €15,000 in cash stolen while dining out in the city on Tuesday afternoon. He’s just the latest Saudi national to be targeted by thieves in France. READ  

Budget row: EU asks France for more details
Hollande and his PM Manuel Valls will have to convince Brussels their 2015 budget is in order. Photo: AFP

Budget row: EU asks France for more details

French President Francois Hollande said his country had received an EU Commission letter asking for clarifications over its 2015 budget, which forecasts that France will miss the deficit targets laid by Brussels by a wide margin. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Nowhere combines sex and art quite like France
National
Why you should never turn down an invitation to a French wedding
Sport
Discover the route of the 2015 Tour de France. There are a few surprises
Gallery
Ten changes that would make learning French so much easier
Culture
IN PICTURES: 'Glass ship' Vuitton ready to set sail in Paris
International
How a giant 'sex toy' earned an American artist a slap in Paris
National
'Unlike in the US the French don't put the blame on the poor'
Gallery
Cover up and don't be too Latin: French travel warnings for the US
Society
Macholand: The online uprising against sexism in France
Gallery
In pictures: The daily life of the 2,000 migrants in Calais
Culture
Erotic promo video earns the Musée d'Orsay our "Only in France" award
International
'I love the UK, but I could die getting there': Struggles of Calais migrants
National
Seven reasons why everyone should work in a bar in France
National
The cost of expat home comforts: How France compares to Europe
International
Why don't Calais migrants stay in France? The Local went to find out
National
What are the pros and cons of working as an au pair in France?
Society
Is France's generous welfare state about to get a little stingier?
Gallery
Extraordinary images of ordinary life in the poor Paris suburbs
Gallery
10 things expats love and loathe about life in France
National
So why don't many women in France breastfeed?
National
'Stop bashing La Belle France' - French PM tells UK press
International
UK warns Brits of 'high threat' from terrorism' in France
National
VIDEO: 'The Kama Sutra is not a dirty little text'
National
What Rome could teach Paris and vice versa
Gallery
What do foreign countries warn their citizens about when visiting France?
Gallery
IN IMAGES: Eiffel Tower opens new glass floor above Paris
Society
Is it really better to grow old in the UK and the US rather than France?
Gallery
It's that time if the year again: French sportsmen reveal (almost) all
Gallery
So what do the French find really weird about Anglos?
Travel
Paris museums to open seven days a week but unions are not happy
Culture
Caption contest: What happened when Jay Z met Sark O?
International
This explains why the French never seem to get a sense of déjà vu?
National
VIDEO: Here's a view from the Eiffel Tower you haven't seen before
Travel
Do Paris's iconic rooftops deserve Unesco World Heritage status?
Opinion
'France cannot reform, the pilots' strike showed us this'
National
'We just don’t work hard enough in France.' Is that true?
International
France has moved to beef up security in various public places
National
Hiking naked in France does not come risk-free
Culture
10 French customs that confuse Anglos
National
IN PICTURES: A look inside France's 'most notorious' prison
International
Isis urges killing of 'spiteful, dirty' French
National
Paris installs new device to stop 'love lock' craze
National
Paris cabby dies in vicious high-heel attack
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se