The Tourism industry in Paris has suffered since the November attacks, and now a group of Japanese tour operators are taking matters into their own hands.
Whilst they may not be able to do anything about security, they are hoping to tackle another reason tourists may be put off visiting – the dirtiness of the city.
A cleaning operation, run by the Paris Tourism Association, a group of nine Japanese tour operators, with support from Japan Airlines, will be launched on Sunday, March 13th. The group will start by tidying the Trocadéro gardens by the Eiffel Tower, and will plant Japanese cherry trees there in the hope that a cleaner city will attract more Japanese visitors.
It's not the first time that Japanese nationals have done their bit to make the City of Light a tidier place; since 2007, a group of expats from environmental organization Green Bird have been taking regular care of tourist hotspots in Paris including the Champs Élysées and the Eiffel Tower.
It is estimated that around 600,000 Japanese tourists visit Paris each year, placing it in the top five countries for tourists along with the USA (1.8 million annual visitors), Britain (1.2 million), Germany (800,000) and China (500,000).
Paris’ mayor, Anne Hidalgo, went to Tokyo last month with the goal of encouraging tourism to Paris after initial estimates showed the attacks had caused a €2 billion loss. Tokyo and Japan in general have a reputation for maintaining cleanliness – something which cannot be said about Paris.
Despite 5,000 cleaners sweeping its streets daily, parts of the city are littered with rubbish, and cigarette butts and dog poo are notorious problems.
However, in recent months a plan has been launched by the city's Town Hall to turn the city into the “a model of cleanliness”. The €25 million plan would see a total modernization of the cleaning hardware, additional garbage workers and an update of an app allowing residents to report dirty areas so they can be tackled faster.
A recent clean-up of the Canal Saint-Martin unearthed some treasures alongside an abundance of litter from the canal's murky waters – see the 17 most bizarre finds here.