• France's news in English
 
'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

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
Do the French really not care about Christmas?
Do the French really not care about Christmas? Photo: AFP

Do the French really not care about Christmas?

An opinion poll published this week concluded the French were the least bothered about Christmas of all northern European countries. But do the French really not give a s**t about Santa? Or are these polls best ignored? READ  

Chocolate-fed monkey terrorizes Marseille
An aggressive monkey fed on a diet of Kinder chocolate has been terrorizing Marseille. Photo: Shutterstock

Chocolate-fed monkey terrorizes Marseille

An aggressive monkey, fed on a diet on Kinder chocolate, had been terrorizing a neighbourhood in the French city of Marseille in recent weeks until it was finally tamed by police, with the help of a Taser gun. READ  

High testosterone linked to love of spicy food
The 'manlier' you are the more spice you'll add to your food. Photo: Shutterstock

High testosterone linked to love of spicy food

After carrying out experiments with 114 men and some red hot chili sauce French scientists have concluded there is a clear link between testosterone levels and an appetite for all things hot and spicy. READ  

Paris show on women's periods 'breaks taboo'
Twenty-four photographs that showcase a woman and her period, from her teens through to her menopause. Photo: Marianne Rosenstielh

Paris show on women's periods 'breaks taboo'

A renowned French photographer is inviting a Paris audience with an open mind to venture into the world of women's menstrual cycles at an exhibition she's perhaps appropriately called 'The Curse'. READ  

JobTalk France
Working in Paris: Making a career out of odd jobs
Odd jobs, the key to surviving in Paris. Photo: Moyan Brenn/Flickr

Working in Paris: Making a career out of odd jobs

When many expats come over to Paris their major concern is getting a job, and hopefully a good one. But writer William Prendiville’s argues, that even in the midst of an economic crisis it’s possible to survive in Paris for many years thanks to odd jobs. And plenty of them. READ  

France to pump millions into hard-up ‘hoods’
France wants to reduce inequalities by pumping billion into rough neighbourhoods and disadvantaged schools. Photo: AFP

France to pump millions into hard-up ‘hoods’

French President Francois Hollande has set his sights on tackling inequality in France by confirming his government will stump up €5 billion to revamp the country’s most disadvantaged neighbourhoods. It's alongside a new bill to prioritize funds for struggling schools. READ  

Violent theft on France's public transport rises
Financially motivated crimes with violence on the metro, train and bus went up by 16 percent in the first semester of 2014. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

Violent theft on France's public transport rises

Thieves on France's public transport are increasingly using violent methods rather than pick pocketing when targeting their victims, the country's Interior Ministry warned on Wednesday. READ  

France's Alstom 'to pay $700m' in US for bribery
France's Alstom is to pay $700 million in the US over a series of bribery cases.Photo: AFP

France's Alstom 'to pay $700m' in US for bribery

French industrial giant Alstom has agreed to pay $700 million to settle US corruption charges related to the paying of bribes, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday. READ  

'Essential beauty' tips, by France's SNCF rail chiefs
Photo: Wencor Toe/Flickr

'Essential beauty' tips, by France's SNCF rail chiefs

France's state-owned rail company SNCF has been slammed for being sexist over a document they published giving female employees "essential beauty" tips. READ  

Bordeaux vineyards set to produce 'rare' vintage
Bordeaux's 2014 wines are set to be a rare vintage. Photo: AFP

Bordeaux vineyards set to produce 'rare' vintage

It was another poor harvest this year for that most famous of French wines, but Bordeaux enthusiasts can celebrate a "rare" vintage blessed by an abundance of autumn sun, local producers say. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
So what does the web tell us about the French in the year 2014
National
Immigration in France: Hollande hits back at the scaremongers
Culture
What's on: 10 things to do in France before Christmas
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
National
Muslims rule France in 2022: The bad boy of French literature is back
Gallery
There's so many things that claim to be French but aren't. Here's 12.
National
Crazy cat stories: Moggie returns after 1,200km trek across France
National
Tea sets for boys? French feminists protest 'gendered' Christmas presents
National
Jacques Chirac's 'head' - The perfect place to hide 1.5 kilos of weed
Gallery
Myths debunked: 11 things you (wrongly) presumed about France
National
Prices are tumbling but the property ladder is increasingly out of reach for the French
Education
IN IMAGES: French universities 'in ruin'. The students have the evidence
National
Life's about to get a lot cheaper for Paris commuters. Or is it?
Gallery
Ten dos and don'ts for partying with the French this Christmas
National
Some famous French fine wines are under threat from high speed trains
National
VIDEO: Homeless bodybuilder turns the streets of Paris into his gym
Business & Money
Noble Prize for Economics: Six things to know about Jean Tirole
Culture
Nobel Literature Prize: Ten things to know about Patrick Modiano
Gallery
Looking for a good Christmas market in France? Here's our top 10
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The top 15 new inventions to come out of France
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Gallery
Miss France Farmer: The contest to find a 'real French beauty'
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Lyon's spectacular festival of lights dazzles once again
Gallery
IN IMAGES: Ten French Bond girls through the ages
National
Outrage forces French city to scrap yellow triangle ID cards for homeless
Gallery
Who does Christmas better - The French or Anglos? We decide.
National
All you need to know about the new French Bond girl Léa Seydoux
International
'My iPod's broken' - French jihadists moan about lack of home comforts
National
Race you to the top of the Eiffel Tower. No seriously, I'll race you.
National
And what if Mona Lisa was really a slave from China?
Opinion
Why company bosses in France have just about had enough
National
What impact did a 'giant butt plug' in Paris have on sales of sex toys?
Travel
National Geographic's top world destination for 2015 is in France.
Society
French babies switched at birth: Families seek €12 million damages
National
Why are so many French police officers taking their own lives?
Society
Immigration in France: Ten numbers that matter
Sponsored Article
Win a €250 voucher for your Christmas list
National
Sarko is back in the ring: Did he ever really leave it?
National
IN IMAGES: Yet more fatal floods hit the south of France
Gallery
Forget tourism and wine, here are 10 OTHER ways France leads the world
Education
Is Paris really the best place in the world to be a student?
Society
The things gynecologists say that drive French women mad
Sponsored Article
Live like a local - anywhere in the world
National
A pill to make flatulence smell like roses? A Frenchman has cracked it
Culture
Rare 400-year-old Shakespeare work found in northern France
National
Paris air pollution: 'It's like being in a room with eight smokers'
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
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