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TOURISM

French tourism industry set to suffer over falling pound

The vote by the UK to leave the EU and the subsequent fall in the value of the pound may make France too expensive for many British holidaymakers. Bad news for the tourism industry here.

French tourism industry set to suffer over falling pound
Photo: AFP

With the value of the British currency tumbling it's likely that many Britons will be forced to turn their backs on their favoured tourist destination, which may soon be out of their budget.

On Friday the value of the pound was at €1.19. It has been almost €1.40 before the referendum. Some analysts have suggested that the currencies will eventually reach parity.

The slide in value of the pound may hit bookings by British tourists said the French travel industry umbrella group Les Entreprises du Voyage.

“It is absolutely double-edged: Britain will attract more French people but it is bad news for the French economy as fewer British tourists will come to France because it will be a more expensive destination,” said the group's president, Jean-Pierre Mas.

That would spell bad news for the many British expats in France who work in the tourism industry and whose livelihoods depend greatly on visitors from Britain.

Whether its renting out property or operating tours, the tourism industry is an important way Brits in France can earn a living.

Although four million French people take short holidays in Britain every year, there are 12 million Britons who do the same in France, according to French online travel site Easyvoyage chairman Jean-Pierre Nadir.

Brexit risks hurting tourism in areas favoured by British holidaymakers such as the west of France, and especially Normandy, Nadir told AFP.

British searches for European holidays on Kayak surged 24 percent on June 24 compared to the previous day, the web site said.

France topped the list of flight destinations being queried that day, Kayak said.

But by the next day France had dropped out of the top 10 to be replaced by the Netherlands, up 161 percent, Czech Republic, up 146 percent, and Sweden, up 140 percent, it said.

But the flip side is the fall in the pound could mean good news for the British tourism industry

Online queries for European holiday flights to Britain soared after its voters chose to abandon the EU, travel web sites
reported, offering a glimmer of hope for tourism in the country.

People across Europe apparently rushed to find bargain trips after the June 23 referendum on leaving the European Union, which tipped sterling into a sharp slide against the euro and an even steeper fall against the dollar.

Searches for flights from France to Britain surged 130 percent from a day earlier on June 24, when the results were announced, according to data provided by holiday booking site Kayak, which says it handles some 1.5 billion travel searches a year.

Kayak said it enjoyed a similar spike in searches for flights to Britain from Europe between June 24 and 25 with increases of 86 percent from Germany, 102 percent from Spain and 114 percent from Finland.

Rival Paris-based holiday booking site liligo.com, which claims four million unique online visitors a month, said web interest in Paris-London flights rose 34 percent from June 23 to 26.

“It is too early to say for sure but the first trends we have seen and the devaluation of the British currency suggest that interest in the UK as a destination will be maintained in the weeks ahead, especially for European passengers interested in 'city breaks'  to London to go shopping,” liligo.com said in a statement sent to AFP.

Booking site MisterFly told AFP it had experienced a 60-percent increase in actual flight reservations from France to Britain since the Brexit vote.

 

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TRAVEL

Driving in France: What is télépéage and how does it work?

Ever seen those drivers who avoid the queues at toll booths and driving straight through? Here's how they do it.

Driving in France: What is télépéage and how does it work?

If you’re driving on French autoroutes one of the things you need to know is that they are not free – you will have to pay regular tolls, payable at toll booths known as péage.

Usually, drivers pick up a ticket from a booth at the start of their journey, then pay the required amount at a booth at the end of it – or when they move onto a different section of autoroute – based on the distance they have travelled.

But the toll booths themselves can be busy, especially during the summer, and long queues sometimes build up.

READ ALSO 8 things to know about driving in France this summer

This is where automated pay systems – known as télépéage – come in, especially for those who use the motorway network regularly.

As well as allowing you to pass straight through péages without stopping for payment, it’s also very useful for owners of right-hand drive vehicles, who may otherwise find that they’re sitting on the wrong side for easy and speedy payment.

Here’s how it works

Order your télépéage badge online

Click on the Bip&Go website here and follow the instructions to order a scannable personalised device (up to a maximum of two per account for private users). You will need to set up an account to arrange electronic payment of charges.

The website is available in English, French, German or Dutch.

You will need to supply bank details (IBAN number), address (for delivery), mobile phone number (to activate your account) and the vehicle’s registration details.

Your badge will be dispatched to your address within 48 hours from the opening of your online account. You can have the device sent to addresses outside France, but allow longer for it to arrive. 

If you’re in France, you can also pick up the device at one of Bip&Go’s stores, if you prefer – you will need need your bank details, proof of identity and a mobile phone.

Attach your badge 

Place your device on on the windscreen to the right of the rearview mirror. It is activated and ready to go. Then, simply, drive.

At the péage

All toll booths are equipped with the sensors that recognise that the vehicle is carrying the necessary device. At most, you will have to stop briefly for the device to be recognised and the barrier to lift.

You will also be able to drive through certain booth areas without stopping. These are indicated by an orange t symbol on the overhead signs. The maximum speed you can pass through these booths is 30kph.

Payments

Payments are processed automatically. You can monitor the amounts you have to pay on an app.

Do I need separate badges for motorway networks run by different companies?

No. The badge allows holders to travel on the entire French motorway network, no matter which company manages the motorway, and you can also use it to cross a number of toll structures in France such as the Millau Viaduct, the Tancarville Bridge or the Normandie Bridge, and pay to park in more than 450 car parks. 

Is it only valid in France?

No, with certain packages, you can also as easily travel on motorways in Spain, Portugal and Italy, and use a number of compatible car parks. You can even use them on Italian ferries.

Okay, but how much does it cost?

Subscriptions to the Bip&Go service depend on what type of service you want. A fixed price rolling subscription is €16 a year – plus toll charges – but assumes you’re a regular user of French motorways. 

A pay-as-you-go subscription is €1.70 for every month the badge is in use – plus toll charges – and carries a €10 additional fee if the badge is not used in a 12-month period.

How much are the toll charges?

They depend on the road you’re on, how far you travel along it, and the vehicle you’re driving.

Heading from Toulouse to Biarritz along the A64 will cost a total €23 in fees for a private car and if you’re driving all the way from Calais down to the Mediterranean coast expect to pay around €70 once you add up the various tolls along the way.

You can find out tariffs for autoroutes on the website of France’s official autoroute body AFSA – where you can also calculate the cost of your journey – including fuel.

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