Paris is making new efforts to draw tourists from China in the wake of criminal activity and the Chinese government’s crackdown on extravagant spending.
The Chinese embassy reported that at least four robberies have occurred on express trains that travel between Paris and Charles de Gaulle International Airport, located 25 kilometers northeast of the city. The embassy issued a warning in March to encourage Chinese visitors to use taxis, buses, or other forms of public transportation to travel in the region. Recent terrorist attacks have also dissuaded Chinese tourists from traveling to Paris.
According to China Daily, Chinese tourists are “widely regarded as a prime target for thieves, robbers and crimes of violence” because they are known for carrying large amounts of money.
Paris, which hosted about 533,000 visitors from China last year, is now taking measures to reduce crimes committed against its Chinese visitors and maintain its lucrative relationship with its seventh-largest overseas source market.
Clement Laloux, marketing director of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, spoke of the city’s heightened security efforts and noted that they are proving effective. Crime-prevention resources are now available in Chinese and more accessible to overseas travelers, and more police officers are now on duty at the city’s most popular tourist spots. The city also unveiled a security action plan last year, which featured “26 measures to curb crimes targeting tourists.”
“In the central district, the main tourist area, tourists can file complaints directly in Chinese, because there are Chinese-speaking police,” Laloux said.
Data released by the Paris police in November indicates that robberies against Chinese tourists decreased by 25 percent during the first nine months of 2014.
Such findings are encouraging for France’s tourism industry, as the country’s economy is struggling and China has represented the largest outbound tourism market in the world since 2012. Though President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on extravagance has made Chinese tourists warier about spending large amounts of money overseas, Laloux says that each spends an average of 1,500 euros ($1,670) on shopping. Paris offers cheaper prices on brand names and tax refunds of 12 percent.
The current weakness of the euro has also encouraged more Chinese visitors to shop in Europe. Luxury spending by Chinese tourists rose by 122 percent in March compared with that of last year and 52 percent in February compared with last year. This brings the increase of the first quarter to 67 percent, according to the international tax refund company Global Blue.
The city is also taking action to make itself more appealing to Chinese tourists. There are now six cities in China with direct flight routes to Paris, and newly opened cultural attractions such as the Paris Philharmonia and the Louis Vuitton Foundation are expected to draw new visitors as well.
image credit: pedro ribeiro simões