Travel

Paris' tourism revival

Travellers no longer allowing terrorism to put them off Europe

High-kicking dancers are enthralling full houses again at the Moulin Rouge and art lovers are swarming the Louvre as Paris enjoys a tourism revival after plummeting numbers brought on by terror attacks.

Tourists, increasingly refusing to give in to the fear of being caught up in a jihadist attack such as the November 2015 bloodbath in the French capital, are coming in droves once more.

In a rebound that began at the end of last year, Paris saw a record 2.6 million foreign arrivals in the first four months of this year - a 19 per cent increase over the same period last year.

Top Moulin Rouge official Jean-Victor Clerico shook his head as he looked back at the "black year" of 2016, when the cavernous hall was only three-quarters full on an average night.

Since then, the world's most famous cabaret has enjoyed an uptick.

Terror attacks have actually become more frequent and widespread, hitting not just France but also Belgium, Britain and Germany, sparking "a kind of fatalism", said Ms Josette Sicsic, head of Touriscopie, a firm that tracks tourist behaviour.

Terror attacks "are affecting tourism for shorter and shorter periods", she said.

France's tourism ministry expects a five per cent to six per cent increase in overall arrivals to the country this year, for a new record of 89 million visitors this year.

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Mr Nicolas Lefebvre, director of the Paris Tourism Office, also said he thought people are becoming inured to terrorism.

"The constant repetition of these events - there have been several in a few months, thankfully less deadly - has made them sort of part of the landscape, and it no longer stops people from imagining, thinking about and organising a trip to Europe, and to Paris in particular," he said.

Ms Sicsic said that potential tourists have concluded that they "can be hit by a terrorist act in their country of origin or when travelling, (so) you cannot keep boycotting Paris, London and so on". - AFP

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