Britons and other foreign tourists have stayed away from Paris as terrorist attacks, strikes and floods cost the Paris region tourism industry some €750m (£644m), officials said on Tuesday.
France is the most visited country in the world with 85 million tourists spending time there last year. The country relies heavily on its tourism industry and generates more than 7 per cent of its gross domestic product from tourism, and over 13 per cent of that total in the Paris region alone.
But the number of tourists visiting the region has gone down markedly since 130 people were killed in Paris in November.
The sector suffered another blow when a gunman drove a truck into crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, in July, killing 85 people.
Frederic Valletoux, the head of the Paris region tourist board, said the decline in tourists has cost the region millions of euros as he called for “a relief plan”.
"It’s time to realise that the tourism sector is going through an industrial disaster," Valletoux said.
"This is no longer the time for communication campaigns but to set up a relief plan," he added.
Valletoux called for major investments to protect the tourism sector, which employs about 500,000 people in the region.
He urged Jean-Marc Ayrault to meet with local tourism officials to debate an emergency plan.
Nightly hotel stays were down 8.5 per cent in the Ile-de-France region in the first half of 2016, with an 11.5 per cent decline in foreign tourists and a 4.8 per cent decline in French tourist, according to the tourist board figures.
Japanese visitors were down 46.2 per cent in the first half compared with the same period in 2015, followed by Russians down 35 per cent and Chinese down 19.6 per cent, the Paris region tourist board statement said.
Meanwhile, British holidaymakers picked “safer” destinations such Spain and Greece over France and other terrorism-struck countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia.
Spain was a favourite with more than 2 million UK tourists visiting Spain in June, up 17,5 per cent on 2015.
In January a survey by Travelzoo, a travel deals site, found that 30 per cent of UK rate the general safety and security of a destination as the most important factor when deciding where to go on holiday.
Additonal reporting by Reuters
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies