• 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
Calais migrants' crisis
Migrants disrupt Channel Tunnel traffic in Calais
Migrants climbing into the back of a lorry in Calais, northern France. Photo: Philippe Huguen / AFP

Migrants disrupt Channel Tunnel traffic in Calais

Traffic along the Channel Tunnel connecting Britain and France was disrupted late Friday night when dozens of migrants attempted to enter restricted areas of the tunnel in Calais, officials said. READ  

VIDEO
Paris opens parks 24h a day so locals can cool off
Photo: AFP

Paris opens parks 24h a day so locals can cool off

Authorities in Paris are to open parks at night to allow the the capital's residents to cool off, while one MP has proposed a new law allowing workers to go home when the mercury hits 35C. READ  

Guestblog - "J'aime McDo"
Why do the French love McDonald's so much?
Why do the French love McDonald's? Photo: AFP

Why do the French love McDonald's so much?

In the country that invented haute cuisine – Janine Marsh, editor of The Good Life France, asks "Just why are the French so-Mcdo-pro?" READ  

Uber suspends UberPop service in France
Taxi drivers called for an end to UberPop and they've got what they wanted, for now at least. Photo: AFP

Uber suspends UberPop service in France

Uber announced on Friday that it will be suspending its UberPop in France a week after the government and taxi drivers declared war on the controversial service. READ  

Travel warnings as France heads on holiday
Being stuck in a car or a train will not be pleasant this weekend. Photo: AFP

Travel warnings as France heads on holiday

It promises to be a hot weekend on roads around France and not just because of the heatwave. With the summer holidays about to start, warnings have been issued to motorists. READ  

Tour de France to take place amid tight security
Photo: AFP

Tour de France to take place amid tight security

The Tour de France, the world's most famous bike race gets underway on Saturday with French authorities promising security will be their top priority with the country on heightened terror alert. READ  

US orders a million donuts from France
A box of donuts, one million of which will be on there way from France to the US.

US orders a million donuts from France

Imagine a French customer putting an order in with a US firm to send one million croissants over the Atlantic. Well, the opposite happened this week. READ  

IN PICTURES
Angry French farmers send out distress call

Angry French farmers send out distress call

Tyres were set on fire, roads were blocked and manure dumped outside supermarkets on Thursday as thousands of struggling French farmers, angry at low prices, staged protests across the country. READ  

Paris steps up campaign to keep McDonald's out

Paris steps up campaign to keep McDonald's out

Paris Town Hall sent a clear message to McDonald’s this week, telling the US fast food giant, it would do “everything possible” to stop it opening a new giant outlet in an historic area of the capital. READ  

Calais migrants' crisis
UK to aid French efforts to stem flow of migrants
Riot police push migrants away from trucks on the outskirts of Calais. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

UK to aid French efforts to stem flow of migrants

Britain agreed on Thursday to stump up extra funding to help deal with the worsening migrants crisis around the Channel port of Calais. A campaign will also be launched to try to convince them that Britain is no el dorado. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
GPS helps blind French hikers cross mountains
National
Dreading the heatwave in France? Here's how to survive the sun
National
Brits might have the brighter economy but are the French happier?
Ryanair or French air traffic controllers: Who would you support?
How life will change in France as of July 1st
These are best places in Paris to escape the heatwave
Ten beaches in France where you'd love to be during the heatwave
Calais chaos: Travellers left to curse 'striking French'
Society
Why the French are right to strike (but perhaps not burn tracks)
Why France doesn't have much to lose from a Grexit
National
Frenchwoman dies as bungee jump ends in tragedy
Travel
The most beautiful French villages you've never heard of
National
Can we really feel any sympathy for French taxi drivers?
Feigned French shock over US spying is not fooling anyone
Gallery
When Franco-American relations turn sour - Ten transatlantic scraps
Sport
Dozens fall violently ill after 'mud race' in France
How a genetically modified 'jellyfish-lamb' ended being eaten in France
Culture
Ten must-visit movie scene locations in Paris
National
Paris to return historic squares to the people
Forget Nutella here's eight things the French should really give up
Sport
What the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris would look like
It's time to lay off the French - They are not that rude
National
Just look at what France has given the United States over the years
Health
France's creaking health service must change if it wants to stay world's best
National
French warn UK: 'Brexit could be your Waterloo'
Europe commemorates 200 years since Waterloo
National
Waterloo: What you need to know about Napoleon
French told stop eating Nutella to save planet
Is it time for France's empty churches to be turned into mosques?
French people told to stop scoffing Nutella in order to save planet
Society
French school teacher shows his pupils porn film
National
IN PICTURES: See the blaze that ravaged a French basilica
Video: Tourists shocked by Calais migrants scramble
The French words the English language needs to steal right now
Bupa
Sponsored Article
Healthcare: 9 questions every expat should ask
Travel
13 ways France aims to become more welcoming to tourists
Education
Expat parents protest changes to admissions for Paris bilingual schools
Education
Test yourself: Just how good is your French grammar?
Travel
France to spend 'hundreds of millions' on tourism
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

3,588
jobs available