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Paris hotels report slump ahead of sober New Year

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The luxury Plaza Athénée in Paris is at 65 percent capacity - the first New Year's it hasn't been full in 15 years. Photo: AFP
12:36 CET+01:00
Paris hotels, usually crammed with New Year revellers, have seen reservations plunge 30 percent in the wake of the November 13 attacks, the head of the regional hotel union said Thursday.
"Reservations are down 30 to 40 percent this year on previous years," said Evelyne Maes, president of the Umih union for the Ile-de-France region covering the capital.
   
"Normally, our establishments are full at year end," she told French radio.
   
Maes said foreign tourists normally flock to the 'City of Light' but the attacks by Islamic extremists which killed 130 people six weeks ago "have made people fearful – people have perhaps hesitated when it comes to visiting Paris."
   
She added hoteliers had "also seen last-minute cancellations" and that the fall-off in tourist numbers had hit all kinds of accommodation, including the furnished variety and also the Airbnb home rental web platform.
 
It's not just tourists who are staying away - even many locals are opting for a quiet night in on New Year's Eve.
 
As The Local previously reported, the national union hoteliers, restauraunt-owners, café-owners and traders, or Synhorcat, has reported a 50 percent drop in restaurant bookings for Thursday night.
 
Those who opt to head out onto the streets of Paris will face a much more sombre affair than usual. The traditional fireworks around the Arc de Triomphe, which last year attracted 650,000 revellers, have been cancelled over fears they might spark panic.
 
The reaction of one reader of The Local, Chris Balchin, was typical of many.
 
"I'm not going anywhere near any large gatherings under the current circumstances," he wrote on our Facebook page
 
Authorities announced on Wednesday that some 11,000 police and soldiers would be on duty in Paris for New Year's Eve - up 2,000 from the total last year. 
 
Photo: AFP
 
This means 80 percent of the total Paris police force will be on duty, noted Le Parisien.
 
Across France, some 60,000 soldiers and police will be seeing the new year in while on the job. 
 
In Paris, the police have "strictly prohibited" the use of fireworks, and have ordered the closure of several Metro stations near key tourist destinations between 10.30pm and 1:30am. 

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The sale of drinks in glass bottles - no matter the content - has been banned too.
   
Hotel reservations plunged in the immediate aftermath of the violence as they did after a series of attacks in January targeting a satirical magazine and a Jewish supermarket that killed 17.
   
Following those attacks, hotel reservations took three months to return to normal, Maes said.
   
But she held out hope of a swifter pick-up in activity this time.
   
"People are starting to come back for the end of the year. Reservations for January... are almost normal."

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