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TOURISM

What you need to know about the French ‘Tourism Plan’

The government wants France to once again become the most visited country in the world. It has already spent €38 billion supporting the tourism sector during the pandemic - and plans to do more.

Prime Minister Jean Castex, centre, walks with other officials
Prime Minister Jean Castex, centre, has unveiled details of a plan to revive tourism in France. (Photo by GAIZKA IROZ / AFP)

French Prime Minister Jean Castex has unveiled measures to boost tourism to the country. 

Speaking during a visit to Indre-et-Loire on Saturday, he said that €1.9 billion would be spent on rescuing the tourism sector, which has been severely upended by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Here is the gist of how the government plans to spend the money, promised by the Elysée back in June, over the next ten years:

Low-interest loans

€750 million will be loaned to businesses working in the tourism sector, at a fixed rate. Individuals will be able to borrow up to €2 million from the publicly owned Bpifrance bank. This scheme is designed to facilitate modernisation and investment within the tourism sector. 

A further €500 million in long-term loans will be made available to businesses that don’t explicitly work in tourism, but which could help attract visitors to the country – like restaurants, for example. 

READ ALSO French economy shows strong growth with reopening of tourism and leisure

On top of this, €650 million in loans and grants will go towards helping some of the poorest sections of French society go on holiday and towards bringing international artists to exhibit their work in France. Some of this money will also go towards what has been termed ‘responsible tourism’. 

Innovation, digitalisation and training

The government will allocate an unspecified amount of funding to developing ‘high-end’ tourism in France, to bring in wealthier visitors. It will also spend money on developing better transport infrastructure and encouraging innovation and digitalisation within the sector. On top of this, it plans to improve training for those working in tourism. 

Why is the government doing this? 

The government has already spent €38 billion in supporting the tourism sector since the start of the pandemic.

It is determined to keep the sector afloat because of its economic importance for France. In 2019, before the pandemic, tourism accounted for 7.4 percent of French GDP and 9.5 percent of all jobs. The 90 million tourists who visited the country that year brought in an estimated €170 billion. 

Globally, the UN estimates that the tourism sector lost €1 trillion because of Covid-19 in 2020. The French government estimates that the economy lost €61 billion in tourism revenue in 2020, while Le Louvre had 70 percent fewer visitors than usual. 

READ ALSO Six reasons why France is so popular with tourists

Under the current plan, most of the government-backed loans must be repaid within four years. While tourism associations have welcome Castex’s announcements, many are calling for this payback period to be extended for up to 12 years. 

Earlier this week, France’s economy minister Bruno Le Maire said there would be no room for negotiation when it comes to paying back the loans. 

More detail to follow 

Castex did not give concrete details on how tourism businesses could access the funds. 

If you own a tourism business in France, be sure to regularly check our website, as we will publish a guide on how to access these loans as soon as we have further information. 

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COVID-19

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

France's public health body outlined how Covid-19 rules changed starting on February 1st, including an end to compulsory self-isolation after a positive test result.

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

Starting on February 1st, Covid rules relaxed in France as the country brought an end to compulsory isolation for those who test positive for the virus.

However, those travelling from China to France will still be required to agree to a random screening upon arrival and to isolate in the case of a positive Covid-19 test result. Travellers aged 11 and over coming from China must also provide a negative test result (less tan 48 hours) prior to boarding and those aged six and over must agree to wear a mask on board flights. These regulations – which was set to last until January 31st – is set to remain in place until February 15th.

The French public health body (The Direction générale de la santé or DGS)  announced the change on Saturday in a decree published in the “Journal Officiel” outlining the various ways the body will loosen previous coronavirus restrictions.

READ MORE: What Covid rules and recommendations remain for visiting France?

Those who were in contact with someone who tested positive – ie a contact cases – will also no longer be required to take a test, though the public health body stressed that both testing after contact and isolating after receiving a positive test remain recommended.

Previously, even asymptomatic people who had been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 were required to test on the second day after being notified that they were a “contact-case”.

These changes took effect on February 1st.

READ MORE: What changes in France in February 2023?

The DGS also said that website SI-DEP, which records test results, will remain in operation until June 30th, however starting in February it will only collect personal data with the express permission of the patient.

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Additionally, the French government announced that sick leave procedures for people with Covid-19 would return to normal starting February 1st – this means that those who test positive for Covid-19 now also have the three-day wait period before daily sick benefits are required to be paid, as is usually the case. Previously, people with Covid-19 could expect daily sick benefits to begin at the start of their sick leave period (arrêt maladie in French).  

READ MORE: How sick leave pay in France compares to other countries in Europe

Covid tests are still available on walk-in basis from most pharmacies are are free to people who are fully vaccinated and registered in the French health system. Unvaccinated people, or visitors to France, have to pay up to a maximum of €22 for an antigen test of €49 for a PCR test. 

If you recently tested positive for Covid-19 in France – or you suspect you may have contracted Covid-19 – you can find some information for how to proceed here.

In explaining the changes that began at the start of February, the French public health body also noted a drop in Covid-19 infections in the past month. As of January 30th, approximately 3,800 people in France had tested positive in the previous 24 hours for the coronavirus – which represents a decrease from the averages of 20,000 new cases per day about one month ago.

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