• France's news in English

'Welcome to Paris': Minister charms Chinese

Ben McPartland · 28 Apr 2014, 10:32

Published: 28 Apr 2014 10:32 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

France’s ongoing campaign to woo Chinese visitors was taken on by its Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Monday morning, when he went to Charles de Gaulle airport to greet tourists as they arrived on a flight from Beijing.

Fabius, who as foreign minister is also in charge of tourism, wanted to show that France is willing to make an effort to seduce Chinese tourists and show them that, contrary to the widely-held stereotype, Paris can indeed be a welcoming city.

 “It’s their first contact with France. It’s really important that everything possible is done to welcome the tourists,” Fabius told the media.

Fabius pointed out that the tourism industry represents seven percent of the country’s job market and his presence at the airport was welcomed by tourism chiefs.

“By him being there, he shows that tourism is essential to France. It’s our number one industry,” Francis Navarro, deputy director general of the regional tourism committee, told Europe1 radio.

“The welcome we give tourists is essential. It is often the thing we are criticised for,” he added.

The only problem was that most of the Chinese getting off the plane in Paris had no idea who the foreign minister was and he was not recognised by one tourist, Europe1 reported.

France has long been making efforts to woo Chinese visitors. In January this year The Local reported how France was to cut red tape in order to make it easier for Chinese nationals to visit France.

The regional tourism committee runs courses for those who work in the tourism industry in Paris, including taxi drivers and museum staff, for how to better welcome visitors.

Story continues below…

One course is centred only on the best ways to receive Chinese visitors and it is one of the most popular, the committee’s Navarro said.

The importance of Chinese visitors to the French economy cannot be underestimated. Every year around 1.5 million come to France from China, spending an average of €1,300 each.

Much of that money is spent at in Paris’s famous designer boutiques at the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. These "Grands Magasins" make every effort to accommodate shoppers from the far-east, hiring dozens of bilingual staff and Galeries Lafayette has even installed a separate till for Chinese customers.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France’s 'Jungle' children arrive in UK
Authorities will start to clear the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp on Monday. Photo: Denis Charlet / AFP file picture

The first group of children from the French "Jungle" migrant camp with no connection to Britain have arrived in the country, the Home Office said Sunday, ahead of the camp's planned demolition.

French FM calls for end to Aleppo 'massacre'
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault says the international community cannot ‘come to a negotiation under the bombs’. Photo: Dominick Reuter / AFP file picture

France's foreign minister urged the international community to "do everything" to end the "massacre" in the Syrian city of Aleppo on Sunday after fighting resumed following a 72-hour truce declared by Damascus ally Russia.

French cheer police, reviving Charlie spirit
French police officers on Saturday demonstrated for the fifth night in a row to protest mounting attacks on officers. Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP

Angry French police have taken to the streets for five nights in a row -- and Parisians have started to cheer them on, reviving scenes last seen following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in 2015.

Scarlett Johansson turns popcorn girl in Paris
US actress Scarlett Johansson greets customers at the Yummy Pop gourmet popcorn shop in the Marais district of Paris. Photo: Benjamin Cremel / AFP

Hollywood superstar Scarlett Johansson swapped the red carpet for a turn behind the counter at her new popcorn shop in Paris on Saturday.

US couple donates huge art collection to Paris
Marlene (centre) and Spencer (right) are donating their collection ‘for the benefit of art lovers’. Photo: Thomas Samson / AFP

A Texan couple who discovered their love for art during a trip to Paris in the 1970s are to donate the multi-million dollar collection they have amassed since to the French capital.

France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available