PARIS, 23 February 2017: Paris saw a drop of 1.5 million tourists in 2016 as fears linked to terror attacks scared off visitors, especially from China and Japan, figures showed Tuesday.
However, tourist numbers picked up towards the end of the year, suggesting the slump could be easing, regional tourism authority CRT said.
The number of international visitors to the French capital fell almost 9% in 2016, with numbers from Japan plummeting more than 40% and Chinese visitors down by more than 20%.
Tourism from European countries was also hit with visitors from Italy and Russia declining by around a quarter despite the city hosting several matches of the Euro 2016 football championships, including the final.
The visitor figures are based on hotel arrivals.
Major tourist attractions such as the Louvre museum, the Musee d’Orsay and Disneyland Paris saw visits drop between nine and 13%.
Visitors from the United States seemed however to be less affected by security concerns with a drop of just under 5% compared with 2015, representing around 100,000 visitors.
The shortfall cost Paris about 1.3 billion euros (USD1 billion), the CRT said.
The body’s president Frederic Valletoux said however that an uplift in bookings in November and December “makes us think that things could improve in 2017, even if they are rather weak signs at the moment”.
In November 2015, 130 people were killed in Paris when gunmen and suicide bombers from the Islamic State jihadist group attacked bars, restaurants, a concert hall and the Stade de France national stadium.
Earlier this month, a soldier shot and wounded a machete-wielding Egyptian man who lunged at him outside the Louvre in Paris while shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God Is Greatest).
Officials said the attacks had not been the only factor in discouraging visitors to Paris.
Valletoux said aside from the “exceptional security context”, tourists were also put off by a wave of strikes and protests against the Socialist government’s labour market reforms and heavy flooding that hit Paris and surrounding areas in May and June.
Valletoux said despite the global growth of room-sharing services such as Airbnb, their effect on hotel stays had been “marginal”.
Figures revealed this month showed that despite fears linked to attacks, the nation as a whole retained its position as the world’s number one tourist destination last year with between 82.5 million and 83 million foreign visitors.
© Agence France-Presse