French told to be nicer to Tourists
‘An unhappy tourist is a tourist that never comes back,’ observed Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in a national conference on tourism. That said, he revealed plans on how France could reverse its image of being aloof with tourists: to make France friendlier.
Commerce Minister Fleur Pellerin added that the French should ‘recover a sense of hospitality’ because ‘too often we mistake service with servility.’ The many French, especially waiters, are known to be unfriendly to tourists who do not speak their language.
The conference comes at a time when France is struggling with persistent criminal activities in Paris’ top attractions and its falling reputation as the world’s best tourist destination. Pellerin said tourism is vital for crisis-recovering France and that ‘Tourism is not an amusing or secondary matter… the stakes are the same as exports.’
Fabius said that there are five areas in the tourism sector that would be covered by the action plan:
- gastronomy and wine
- sport and mountains
- luxury and artisan work
- urban tourism
The plan will also involve increasing the number of tourist zones to allow more shops to stay open on Sundays. Other plans include:
- Renovation of Gare du Nord railway station’s Eurostar-London route
- Addition of special lane on the A1 motorway to and from Charles de Gaulle airport
- Introduction of flat rate taxis for passengers riding to and from the airport
- Start of plans for the Charles de Gaulle express line
The French government wants to boost the number of foreign tourists from 83 million in 2012 to 100 million annually.