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France to compensate ski resorts hit by ban on British tourists

France will compensate ski resorts affected by the new travel ban on British tourists who make up around 15 percent of French ski resort customers.

Chairlifts above the slopes in Chamrousse, France
British tourists make up over 15 percent of all tourists in some French ski resorts. Photo by Quenten Janssen on Unsplash

Speaking on C News and BFM TV on Saturday, French tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne said he wanted to encourage more tourists, especially French tourists, to go to the resorts to make up for lost earnings.

Together with businesses in affected ski resorts, he said he would look at the impact of the loss of UK business in ski resorts over the next few weeks and implement “bespoke” measures to help those affected.

However, he did not specify what these might be.

“We are going to look at the figures…and we will do what we need to cushion the impact,” he said, explaining that they needed to analyse the situation first as not all resorts and businesses would be affected equally by the loss of British custom.

For example, British tourists made up a higher percentage of the total clientele in some resorts, such as Val d’Isere, Courchevel and Meribel, he said.

To stem the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant, new rules banning holiday travel from the UK came into force on Saturday.

READ ALSO: Thousands rush to beat Covid travel restrictions between France and the UK

Under France’s new rules, travellers need to show a compelling reason for travel between the two countries.

The only exemptions for needing a compelling reason are for French and European travellers returning to France and British passengers heading in the other direction.

Lemoyne also noted that there could be fewer Dutch tourists in French resorts this year. On Sunday, the Netherlands entered a lockdown until at least mid-January to slow the spread of Omicron.

Dutch tourists typically make up around 5 percent of French ski resort visitors, the minister said.

 

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POLITICS

Newly appointed French Minister faces rape allegations

The final composition of the new French government was announced on Friday. A new investigation suggests that historic rape allegations against a newly appointed minister were ignored.

Newly appointed French Minister faces rape allegations

It didn’t take long for scandal to hit the France’s new government.

An investigation by Mediapart published the day after the final list of ministerial positions was announced revealed that two women have accused one of the appointees of rape. 

READ MORE Who’s who in France’s new government?

Damien Abad, the new Solidarity Minister denies the allegations and a police investigation into one allegation was dropped in 2017. But another could be about to open. 

Who is Damien Abad? 

Damien Abad is a 42-year-old son of a miner from Nimes in southern France who became the first handicapped MP to be elected in 2012. He has arthrogryposis, a rare condition that affects the joints.

Prior to his appointment as the Minister for Solidarity, Autonomy and Disabled People, he was the leader of the France’s right-wing Republicans party in the Assemblée nationale

What are the allegations? 

Two alleged victims, who didn’t know each other, told Mediapart that Abad raped them on separate occasions in 2010 and 2011.

The first woman described meeting Abad for dinner after having met him weeks earlier at a wedding. She said she blacked out after one glass of champagne and woke up in her underwear in a hotel bed with Abad the next morning fearing she had been drugged. 

A second woman who lodged a formal charge against Abad in 2017 said that he harassed her by text message for years. She eventually agreed to meet with him one evening. After initially consenting, she told him to stop – but her plea fell on deaf ears as Abad raped her. 

What does Abad have to say? 

The new minister denies the accusations.

“It is physically impossible for me to commit the acts described,” he told Mediapart – in reference to his disability. 

He admitted to sending “sometimes intimate” messages, but said he had “obviously never drugged anyone”. 

“I was able to have adventures, I stand by my claim that they were always consensual.”

Is he under investigation? 

The second alleged victim made a formal allegation against Abad in 2017. 

A subsequent investigation was dropped later that year after a “lack of sufficient evidence was gathered”.

Mediapart report that Abad’s entourage were not questioned by police and that the MP told investigators that he had no memory of the alleged crime. 

The first alleged victim flagged the abuse to the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics – an unofficial watchdog monitoring elected bodies – earlier this month. 

The Observatory has since brought the case to the state prosecutor, but it is unclear if another investigation will be launched.  

Who knew? 

The tone deaf appointment of Gérald Darmanin as Interior Minister in 2020 was controversial because at the time he was under investigation for rape. His nomination was met with street protests in Paris and elsewhere. Feminists accused (and continue to accuse) Emmanuel Macron of not taking sexual violence seriously. 

The investigation into Darmanin’s alleged crime has since been dropped.

Some will question whether the naming of Abad shows that lessons have not been learned. 

“Once again a minister  in the government of Emmanuel Macron accused of rape,” said Caroline De Haas, the founder of the #NousToutes feminist movement. 

The Observatory sent a message warning senior party figures in the Republicans and LREM about the allegations on Monday – prior to Abad’s nomination. 

France’s new Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne denied having any knowledge of the warning. 

“I am going to be very clear on all these questions of harassment and sexual violence, there will be no impunity,” she said during a visit to Calvados. 

“If there are new elements, if the courts are summoned, we will accept the consequences.” 

READ MORE Who is Élisabeth Borne, France’s new PM?

The Observatory meanwhile claims it has been ignored. 

“Despite our alerts, Damien Abad who is accused of rape has been named in government. Thoughts and support to the victims,” it tweeted

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