Parisian attendance still disappointing
below A street below the Sacré-Cœur basilica on the butte Montmartre in Paris. The City of Light welcomed between 3.6 and 4.7 million visitors between June and August, against 10 million in 2019 (Photo AFP)
PARIS: Few tourists watch the Mona Lisa or roam the streets of Paris this summer, dashing hopes that the leading tourist destination would see better days after desertion linked to last year’s pandemic.
The City of Light welcomed between 3.6 million and 4.7 million visitors between June and August, against 10 million in 2019, before the coronavirus appeared and destroyed international travel, according to figures from the office of the tourism.
Only 2.6 million tourists visited Paris last year.
“With clients from far away who do not come, the impact is considerable,” Didier Arino, director of the travel company Protourisme, told AFP.
France has relaxed its travel rules ahead of the summer season, placing countries in a red, orange and green color-coding system that determines whether visitors need to take a Covid-19 test before arriving, have a compelling reason to visit or quarantine.
Museums and other cultural venues have reopened after long shutdowns, though visitors must show proof of vaccination or negative tests.
But the Parisian attendance remains disappointed.
Arino said hotel occupancy rates in Paris were worse than elsewhere in France, with revenues down 60%.
Romain Jouhaud, general manager of 4 Roues Sous 1 Parapluie, a company that offers guided tours in a classic French car in the capital, said it had only 120 customers this summer compared to 360 in 2019.
Most of his clients are from the United States and Australia.
“We’re trying to get a few more French customers but our problem is that our average price (150 € or $ 176) is a bit high,” he said, noting that the French generally spend less than foreigners. .
Tourist guides have also suffered from the absence of tourists, with activity down by more than 80% in the Ile-de-France region, which includes Paris, according to the association of guides FNGIC.
“Paris is the mirror of the great European capitals,” said Arino. “They all have problems and the more they depend on foreign customers, the harder it is.”
On the Seine, the Vedettes de Paris sightseeing boat company saw its turnover drop by 50% compared to 2019. French customers represented half of the passengers; they represented 65% this year.
The company has adapted by adding an “aperitif cruise” and by installing a space to play pétanque on its quay.
“We have learned to reinvent ourselves, to return the Seine and the Eiffel Tower to Parisians,” said the director of the company, Marie Bozzonie.
The Eiffel Tower reopened in mid-July after a nine-month hiatus due to the pandemic, but it only received 13,000 visitors a day, half of its usual number.
About 50% are French against 20% in the past.
Similar scenes have been seen at the Musée Grévin, which features wax figures of famous people.
Half of its visitors are usually foreigners. It has fallen to 10% this year, according to François Frassier, director of Compagnie des Alpes, owner of the museum and theme parks.