Once the romantic getaway on everyone’s bucket list, France has seen a large drop in tourism thanks to recent terrorist attacks – and now, Kim Kardashian.
The deadly November 2015 terrorist attack in Paris, which left 137 people dead, and the more recent July 2016 massacre where 84 people were killed when a terrorist drove a truck through a crowd during Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, France, left an indelible mark on the reputation of the country as an ideal tourist destination.
According to reports, up to a million fewer travellers to France were recorded between January and June 2016 compared to the previous year, as reported by the BBC.
According to the outlet, the number of Japanese visitors has declined by a staggering 46.2% since 2015, followed by Russian tourists by 35% and American tourists (5.7%). The drop has cost the country £644 million (about R10 billion).
After the November attacks, the French government proposed measures to tighten security that would cost £326m over the subsequent three years. However, plans to repair the reputational damage to Paris – which in 2013 was voted the world’s top tourist destination – were dealt a blow this month after the much-publicised armed robbery of reality star and mobile media mogul Kim Kardashian-West.
On 2 October, armed men stormed the Paris hotel suite of the star, tying her up, and making off with about £8m (about R136 million) in jewellery. The robbery, which came after the city had increased the presence of security personnel in the region, has further exacerbated security concerns.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo denounced the robbery on Twitter in an attempt to appease growing concerns. But experts fear the reputational damage has already been done –the US State Department had urged American tourists to stay vigilant when in the Europe as early as March.
With about 500 000 tourism jobs in the Île-de-France region, including Paris, issues of job security and overall safety have become key aspects of national debate in the lead-up to the presidential elections in April next year.