Some 2 million people work in the tourism industry in France.
The French government has unveiled a new plan to bring tourists back, pledging up to €10 million (about $11.2 million) to restore the image of the European nation following several high profile terror attacks.
The money will be spent in campaigns promoting France around the world. The project aims to woo visitors back to France’s museums, cafes, beaches, and cultural attractions, after many people canceled their trips or opted for other European destinations.
Tourism is a €170-billion industry in France, with €90 billion of that accounting for cafes, restaurants and hotels alone. With 2 million people working in the tourism services sector, a decrease in tourism arrivals can have a ripple effect throughout the entire economy.
“Although we have identified problems, the hope is to have a positive message to promote France as a tourist destination,” Jean-Marc Ayrault, France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, told reporters after the announcement of the program this week.
A series of terror attacks in France in the past 20 months left more than 200 people dead and hundreds more wounded. Fear has spread beyond the borders of Paris and Nice, where the attacks took place, and kept some visitors from traveling to the country at all.
Arrivals to France were down 8 percent overall, according to figures released Tuesday following Ayrault’s meeting with industry leaders.
The announcement of the added funds to boost French tourism came just weeks after the Paris tourism board announced the city had lost €750 million in revenue from a dip in visitors during the first six months of the year.
The return of visitors may already be on its way, however, according to Steve Born, VP of marketing for the U.S.-based tour group Globus that has led trips to Europe for decades. While Globus saw a dip in bookings to France in the months following the November 2015 attacks, the bookings for 2017 are already back on par and pacing alongside other European destinations.
“France has it all,” Born told Travel + Leisure. “For those that are looking to experience Europe it's such a go-to, and it’s such an iconic experience.”