France abandons its 2020 tourism target, blaming Brexit and 'yellow vests'

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France abandons its 2020 tourism target, blaming Brexit and 'yellow vests'
Yellow vest violence has been blamed for a downturn of tourism in Paris. Photo: AFP

The French government has abandoned its goal of welcoming 100 million foreign visitors in 2020, blaming the impacts of months of anti-government protests and Britain's looming exit from the EU, the finance ministry said Tuesday.


"France still aims to have 100 million foreign tourists... nonetheless the goal has been pushed back, given current circumstances, to 2022," the ministry said in a budget document posted online.

The previous Socialist government set the ambitious goal in 2014.

France remains the world's top tourist destination with 89.4 million visitors last year.

READ ALSO Six reasons why France remains the most visited country on earth

Brexit and the fall in the value of the pound has also had an impact on tourism from the UK. Photo: AFP

But the fierce "yellow vest" protests that erupted last November against President Emmanuel Macron made many tourists think twice as the weekly rallies often degenerated into violence.

In Paris in particular, protesters often clashed in running battles with police, while stores were looted and cars set alight on the famed Champs-Elysees avenue and elsewhere.

That led the authorities to lock down much of the centre of Paris and other major cities on Saturdays, until the protests died down over the summer. 

Another factor likely to impact tourism is the weakening of the British pound against the euro as the impact of Brexit is felt across the UK economy.

The Insee statistics office has already reported that the number of overnight stays in tourist accommodation across France fell by 2.5 percent in the first quarter, with the larger Paris Ile-de-France region down 4.8 percent.

"Indicators for the first months of 2019 suggest a decline in foreign tourism stays during the first half of the year," the ministry document said Tuesday.

"This trend is explained largely by the nationwide social movements in the country at the beginning of the year, which impacted reservations over the medium and long term," the document said.

It also noted the effect of the pound's decline against the euro, with "the United Kingdom being our biggest source of tourists," it said.


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Anonymous 2019/10/22 18:20
I love France. Have visited at least once a year for over 25 years. For my husband and me, especially as we grow older, the incessant transportation strikes are difficult. On our last visit, we were forced to stand for 5 hours without food or toilet facilities at the Gare du Nord to board our train for London, all due to a strike by French customs over their displeasure with the impending Brexit. We certainly continue to love France, but may visit less often as the disruptions are proving problematic for us.
Anonymous 2019/10/22 15:20
Why would any rational country want to invite over tourism? Must the lust for money always override the importance of preserving a nation's natural and historical treasures Look at Thailand (pollution, overcrowding, inflation) and Italy (pollution, stress on infrastructure, overcrowding) to see what awaits France. HUGE cruise ships unloading masses of people create tsunamis of pollution on the shores of fragile historical villages. Just imagine the impact of these swarms on the country's resources and the additional garbage in Paris alone. Enough already. Preservez la France pour les Francais!

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