Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa has the same smile, but there aren’t many people huddling together as usual; The cartoonists of Montmartre are bored and the metro is quieter. Paris still exists, but this year the number of foreign tourists has decreased by 60%.
The Paris Tourism and Convention Bureau estimates that between June and August the Paris region received between 3.6 and 4.7 million tourists, down from 10.2 million in 2019, the reference year before Covid-19.
“We don’t have clients who come from far away (such as Asia and South America), so the impact is significant,” Didier Arino, director of the specialist consultancy Protourisme, told AFP.
“Paris has the lowest occupancy rate (for hotels) in the entire country,” says Arino. Hotels lost 60% of their sales and more than half of their overnight stays.
Also note the downfall of Romain Juhud, director of “4 roues sous 1 parapluie”, a company that offers guided tours of the capital on the legendary Citroën 2 (2CV), whose customers have been mostly North America and Australia.
In pre-virus times, the company did 360 summer outings. This year, he made only 120.
“We try to orient ourselves towards a French customer, but the problem is that our average price (150 euros) is a bit expensive, and the French spend less” than foreigners, he explains.
Tourist boats crossing the Seine have also had to rediscover themselves, with losses of 50% compared to 2019. Historically, half of the customers have been the French; This year it rose to 65%.
“43% of them live in the Paris region,” explains Marie Buzoni, director of one of these companies, Les Vedettes de Paris. For this reason, they are no longer on their boats broadcasting interpretations in multiple languages through loudspeakers, but rather they are allowed to be tour guides.
– 40% of guides are considering giving up, and she also devised “appetizer cruises” and set up a petanque field when moored by the river. “We knew how to reinvent ourselves to present the Seine and the Eiffel Tower to Parisians,” Bouzoni celebrates.
Even the Iron Tower, a symbol of Paris, is experiencing a drop in visitors: 13,000 visitors per day, compared to 25,000 in normal times. With a significant increase in the French population, which has risen from 20 to 50% this year, according to figures available to AFP.
Guides are among the biggest victims of the lack of tourists. The activity of 600 to 700 certified guides in the Paris region has fallen by “over 80%”, according to Aude Debuisin, of the French National Federation of Guides.
In this case, the French clients do not fill the sector, because they are “looking for nature, the beach, not being in the cities, and even less so in Paris”, she points out, because the guides in the south, according to her, France “have a lot of work” .
However, 8% of the 1,500 members of the National Association of Guides left their jobs last November, and 40% are currently considering leaving because many of them have virtually no income and no help, Deboaisne says.
Didier Arenaud believed that Paris is a mirror of the situation of the great European capitals. “The more dependent they are on foreign tourists, the worse they become.”
At the wax museum in Paris, with 50% of customers outside France, they had just 10% foreigners this year, according to its director, François Frasier.
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