• 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)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Marseille: Pro-Israel march held amid tension
Thousands march in support of Israel in Marseille. Photo: Boris Horvat/AFP

Marseille: Pro-Israel march held amid tension

Up to 6,000 demonstrators marched through the French city of Marseille on Sunday in support of Israel. The rally was held amid tight security as dozens pro-Palestinian protesters tie to disrupt the demonstration. READ  

Irish climber killed in Mont Blanc fall
Two climbers incuding one Irishman were killed in a fall on Mont Blanc on Sunday. Photo: Philippe Merle/AFP

Irish climber killed in Mont Blanc fall

Two climbers, including one Irish national were killed in a fatal fall in the Mont Blanc range on Sunday. It comes after an American businessman outraged French authorities for trying to scale the mountain with his young children. READ  

France warns nationals to leave Libya
Libyan security services and civilians gather across the street after a car bomb attack on the French embassy in Tripoli, Libya on April 23rd, 2013. Photo: Mahmud Turkia/AF

France warns nationals to leave Libya

France has warned its nationals to leave Libya due to the worsening security situation in the country and the threat of terror attacks. Other European countries have followed suit. READ  

Air Algérie crash: Hunt for clues goes on
This photo shows debris of the Air Algerie Flight AH 5017 scattered at the crash site in Mali's Gossi region, west of Gao, on July 26, 2014. Photo: AFP

Air Algérie crash: Hunt for clues goes on

Investigators continued their hunt for clues that could explain the casue of the deadly Air Algerie crash that killed all 118 people on board. The two black boxes from the aircraft were flown to France on Sunday. READ  

Italian Nibali wins 2014 Tour de France
Italy's Vincenzo Nibali (R) wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey toasts champagne with Astana teammates. Photo: Jean-Paul Pelissier/AFP

Italian Nibali wins 2014 Tour de France

Italian Vincenzo Nibali won the 2014 Tour de France on Sunday after the final stage that ended on the famous Champs-Elysees avenue. Frenchmen Jean-Christophe Peraud and Thibaut Pinot finished second and third. READ  

Truck driver in family death had used cocaine

Truck driver in family death had used cocaine

The driver of a truck that crossed to the wrong side of a French highway and crushed to death a family of five travelling in the opposite direction tested positive for cocaine use, the investigating prosecutor said Saturday. READ  

Scores of arrests at banned pro-Gaza protest
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators spray fumes with the colours of the Palestinian flag, on the Republique square in Paris, during a banned demonstration against Israel's military operation in Gaza and in

Scores of arrests at banned pro-Gaza protest

French police arrested 70 people at a banned pro-Palestinian protest in central Paris on Saturday that degenerated into clashes between demonstrators and armour-clad riot squads. READ  

Flight AH5017 tragedy
Second black box found from Air Algerie crash
A French soldier stands at the crash site of the Air Algerie Flight AH 5017 in Mali's Gossi region, west of Gao, on July 26, 2014.

Second black box found from Air Algerie crash

UN experts investigating the Air Algerie plane disaster in Mali have recovered the second black box from the doomed plane, a spokesman of UN peacekeepers in the country said Saturday. READ  

 French jobless at new record in June
A man looks at a sign at the entrance of a Pole Emploi center, part of France's national employment agency, in Lens. AFP Photo/Philippe Huguen

French jobless at new record in June

The number of registered unemployed in France rose by 9,400 in June to a new record of 3.398 million, the labour ministry said on Friday. READ  

Tour de France stage 19: Lithuanian makes history
A Lithuanian rider, for the first time ever, won a stage of the Tour de France. Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP

Tour de France stage 19: Lithuanian makes history

Stage 19: For the first time in Tour de France history a Lithuanian rider on Friday won a stage of the legendary bike race. Numerous crashes and a disjointed peloton contributed to an unusual day on the course. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Why you should think twice about feeding stray cats in France
National
And the new redrawn map of France will look like...?
Politics
Is French President François Hollande about to tie the knot?
International
Want a long-term visa? You may soon have to take a French test
International
Votes for foreigners: 'France would be giving up its sovereignty'
National
VIDEO: Stuntman jumps onto a moving Paris metro... and survives
Gallery
Forget 'faire l'amour', here's 15 top French expressions for making love
National
Report - 'Anti-Semitic' riots in France: 'We may leave for Israel'
National
Paris Plages: Here's 10 reasons to head down to the city beach
International
'Mont Blanc is like Disneyland. It's time to end the free-for-all'
Travel
Fancy climbing Mont Blanc? Here's 10 reasons to think twice about it
Gallery
Looking for a weird museum in Paris? Here's 10 that are worth a visit
National
Clear your head: Eight tips for buying wine in a French supermarket
National
'Don't blame the labour market for France's unemployment woes!'
National
Job applicants in France: Be prepared to send in an anonymous CV
Sport
'Bouligans' to booze bans: Ten things you need to know about pétanque
Gallery
Driving in France: How to stay out of trouble on the roads
Travel
Ten essential free phone apps for a visit to Paris
Gallery
Like cycling? Love France? See the top ten best cycling routes in France
International
'They think beer is a vegetable': What the French really think of Germans
National
Sarkozy's dream of a 2017 comeback is not dead yet
Gallery
Ten reasons why France is better than Germany (we're not talking football)
Gallery
Paris in Summer: Ten things to do on a shoestring
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
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