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Terror, strikes and rain: France sees seven per cent tourism drop

Economic difficulties in countries such as Russia and Brazil have also affected visitor numbers, said tourism minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. Photograph: (Getty)

AFP Paris, France Aug 23, 2016, 02.40 PM (IST)
The number of tourists visiting France has dropped seven per cent since January, with foreigners deterred by terror attacks but also by bad weather and transport strikes, foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Monday.

"Tourist arrivals since the start of the year have fallen by seven per cent across the country," with Paris worst-hit, said Ayrault, who is also the tourism minister of France.

France is the world's top tourist destination. The sector accounts for around nine per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP).

The industry has been struck a severe blow from attacks by Islamic State jihadists, shuttering festivals and other public events and prompting jittery visitors to stay away.

"The attacks partly explain these disappointing trends. The perception of risk has an influence on some clients, notably the wealthiest or those from Asia," said Ayrault.

He said that economic difficulties in countries such as Russia and Brazil have also affected visitor numbers from those countries.

Pictures of flood-ridden streets, the result of 50 more days of rain in the second quarter compared to normal levels, and public-sector strikes also played a part, he added.

A terror attack in Paris in November last year that killed 130 people led to a drop in tourist numbers.

Officials had hoped the trend would reverse after the successful hosting of the Euro football championship in July.

But just days after the end of the competition a Tunisian believed to be acting for the Islamic State group rammed a lorry into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the Riviera city of Nice, killing 86 people.

The attack led to numerous summer events being called off due to security fears.

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