Seventeen students from the National Institute of Oriental Languages (Inalco) are currently assisting the French police in Paris’s 8th arrondissement by offering advice to passing tourists.
The students, who are fluent in Japanese, Korean and Chinese, will be helping police until the end of the month as part of a summer internship, Le Parisien reported.
According to the paper, the students have been warning tourists about how to avoid being targeted by thieves such as keeping cash safely hidden and their bags securely closed.
The students also warn them against common scams in the city such as fake charity petitions and the ‘game’ Bonneteau, a scam which typically involves three cups and a pea.
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According to Sonia, a Master’s student in Japanese at the Institute, they can also help police to solve crimes.
“It allows victims to be more precise in their statement about what happened to them and in their description of people,” she said.
“These students really are making contact much easier with a population that rarely speaks English, notably Chinese and Japanese,” Deputy Commissioner of the 8th arrondissement police, Vincent Messager, told the paper.
Messager would like to see students who can speak other languages join the scheme.
“This will depend on possible partnerships with institutes of languages and the availability of students,” he said.
According to figures released by the Foreign Ministry, which is in charge of tourism, 2014 saw a notable increase in tourist numbers, with the biggest boost coming from the Asian market, with an extra 16 percent visiting the country.
Meanwhile the number of visits by Europeans dropped by 1.7 percent that year.
The surge in Chinese visitors was largely thanks to the new fast-track 48-hour visa for Chinese travellers, which was introduced last January. The move saw a 61-percent increase in French visas given to Chinese nationals in 2014.
This year’s figures are also looking promising, with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announcing on Thursday that he expected 2015’s tourist numbers to exceed 85 million.