French authorities have this week announced a souped-up plan to revive Paris’s ailing tourist industry, including installing friendly “tourism volunteers” across the city and a suggestion to rename the existing "state of emergency" to the less-alarming "state of high security".
Valérie Pécresse, president of the the Ile-de-France region, reported that 13 per cent fewer tourists visited Paris between January and August 2016 than during the same period in 2015, causing a loss of €1billion (£0.9bn) in tourism revenue each month.
Speaking to Journal du Dimanche, she said: “We are going through an extremely difficult period, marked by terrorist attacks and extreme weather conditions.”
But all is not perdu (lost). After trips to Tokyo, New York and Boston to discuss the city's malaise with high-level tourism professionals, Pécresse has come up with a six-point plan to woo foreign visitors back to the French capital.
The plan will focus on three main areas: hospitality, quality of service and security.
One thousand “tourism volunteers” will be mobilised, with the first batch starting work ahead of the busy Christmas period this year. The English-speaking student helpers, who will be employed on internship placements, will be visible at key sites throughout the city including the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d’Orsay, the Grands Boulevards shopping district and the Palace of Versailles.
Meanwhile, funding will be allocated to providing basic English classes to professionals who work with tourists, including hospitality staff, as well as bus and taxi drivers.
Pécresse also hopes to improve tourists’ experience by introducing a CityPass – a ticket combining travel and entry to major monuments – to be launched in time for the Ryder Cup in September 2018.
The region will also launch a dedicated Welcome To Paris website and app.
In order to reassure visitors on security matters, mobile police stations will be introduced in key tourist spots and it has been advised that the state of emergency in place since the November Paris attacks last year will be renamed to the less alarming ‘state of high security’.
The region also expressed an interest in financing television series set in Ile-de-France, in order to attract global visitors à la Game of Thrones effect.
The authority hopes that this €23million plan will help ensure Paris doesn’t lose its place as one of the world’s most-visited cities.