Tourism in France expected to drop by 30-40%

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The FINANCIAL — France welcomes around 2.7 million Chinese tourists to the country each year. The new coronavirus outbreak is depriving France hotels, restaurants and retailers of big-spending Chinese visitors. Also, France confirmed two new cases of coronavirus.

As stock markets around the world plunge due to the uncertainty over the impact of coronavirus on the global economy, France is already witnessing drastic reductions in the amount of tourists heading its way. France is the most visited country in the world. According to France’s Ministry for Tourism and Foreign Affairs, over 89.4 million tourists visited in 2018; more than any other country. So it would follow that a drop in global tourism as a result of fears and travel bans due to the virus, would have a huge impact on France, according to Forbes.

“We have less tourists, of course, in France, about 30%, 40% less than expected,” Bruno Le Maire told CNBC’s Dan Murphy on Sunday at the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ Meetings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. France welcomes around 2.7 million Chinese tourists each year, Le Maire said. “It won’t be the same, of course, in 2020.” France has reported 14 confirmed cases of the virus and one death, according to a WHO report dated Feb. 22, CNBC reported.

The new coronavirus outbreak is depriving Paris hotels, restaurants and retailers of big-spending Chinese visitors, the latest challenge for a French tourism industry facing headwinds from homegrown protests and Brexit, officials said Monday. “For now, airline forecasts suggest a 60 percent drop in Chinese visitors for February, March and April compared with the same period last year,” said Valerie Pecresse, president of the Ile-de-France region that encompasses the French capital. Around 950,000 Chinese visited Paris last year, making them the fifth-largest source of tourists by nationality, according to the CRT regional tourism committee. But they were the second-biggest spenders overall, shelling out one billion euros ($1.1 billion) on hotel rooms, restaurants, museum visits and shopping sprees, The Local wrote.

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France’s top health official on Tuesday confirmed two new cases of coronavirus, adding that neither patient was in serious condition. The first new case is a young Chinese woman who recently returned from China and is now hospitalised in Paris, said Jérôme Salomon, the head of France’s national health agency. The other patient, a male, had recently travelled to northern Italy’s Lombardy region, the centre of a rapidly growing outbreak that has infected more than 300 people in the country, Europe’s worst-hit by the virus, according to FRANCE 24. The two new cases bring to 14 the number of infections detected in France since the start of the outbreak. One of those 14 people has died and 11 have recovered. “We have decided it is unthinkable and ineffective to consider closing the borders,” French Health Minister told FRANCE 24.

Though it is too soon to quantify it precisely, the potential economic impact of the coronavirus is evident nearly everywhere. From the streets of Paris to the wineries of Burgundy, from the German town of Füssen near the fairy tale castle of Neuschwanstein to a shopping outlet in Oxfordshire, England, the numbers of Chinese tourists have visibly dropped since Beijing banned overseas group tours on Jan. 27. Last week, the world’s biggest mobile communications trade fair, scheduled to start in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 24, was canceled as participants withdrew over fears linked to the virus. It was the most important business event so far to be canceled outside Asia since the start of the outbreak, according to The New York Post.

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Shares of airlines and travel companies around the world plunged Monday due to fears about the spread of the coronavirus. Read more.

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