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Foreign tourists return to Paris after two years of hiatus

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After two years absent due to the pandemic, foreign visitors are returning this spring to Pariswho is now betting on a “sightseeing more sustainable” to maintain the magnetism of the city.

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“When I’m home, I miss Paris.” Beat, 69, and Heidi, 66, two Swiss who were walking Thursday at the foot of Notre-Dame Cathedral, came “every year to Paris, for 30 years”, until the Covid-19 deprived them of that pleasure.

For the first time in Paris, Anne-Marie, 25, and her father Henri, 55, have arrived from Munich by train. They are happy, because during the pandemic they had not left Bavaria.

To visit the Louvre museum, Anne-Marie puts on her face mask. “I work in a hospital, I’m very careful,” she says.

triple sales

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“The return of tourists began at the end of February, but above all” it skyrocketed “from the week before Easter” confirms Léo Razzaz, who has tripled since the end of March the amount of ‘focaccia’ sold at his mobile stall, parked in the square of the Palais-Royal.

With 20% more tourists compared to 2019, “without the Russians or the Asians”, the Easter weekend has been brilliant, with hotels 82% full, stressed Jean-François Rial, president of the Office of Tourism and the Congresses of Paris (OTCP), on Wednesday on the television channel BFM Business. And the Eiffel Tower has received 22,000 visitors a day, very close to its maximum capacity.

On the Easter weekend, North Americans were almost as numerous as before the pandemic (only 2% less), as were Europeans (-8%), according to the OTCP, which believes that “these dynamics are going to continue ”

Thus, in July, European tourists are expected to be more numerous in the French capital than in 2019, while the return of Americans “in pre-pandemic volumes” could occur after the boreal summer, estimates the OTCP.

In the Eiffel Tower, in addition to the return of the Americans, a “renationalization” of the visitors stands out, since a quarter of these are French, double what happened before the health crisis, underlines Jean-François Martins, president of the operating company (Sete).

A “more resistant” tourism?

In the absence of Russian tourists, blocked by the war with Ukraine, and Asians, who are emerging much more cautiously from the pandemic, “this dynamic is interesting because it is based on the return of more local, French and European tourism” agrees Frédéric Hocquard , responsible for tourism in the municipality of Paris.

Thus, fewer arrivals by plane, more by train, with longer stays and “better distributed throughout the territory”: for the municipal official, the exit from the crisis is an opportunity to approach a “more sustainable tourism, and therefore more resistant in times of crisis”.

Rial, from the OCTP, for his part, wants to “avoid the super-concentration of tourists at the same time and in the same place” for which he proposes the “alternative Paris”.

On the website of the tourist office, there are, for example, proposals for the best neighborhoods for street-art frescoes, or the visitor is encouraged to leave the limits of the capital –crossing the “peripheral” that surrounds it– to go to Vitry-sur-Seine or Saint-Denis.

Source: Gestion

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