In Paris, the return of visitors and the profile of “after” tourism
They missed Paris. With sunny days, foreign tourists are back in the capital after a two-year pandemic, a crisis the town hall wants to take advantage of to switch to “more sustainable” tourism.
“When I’m at home, I miss Paris. Beit, 69, and Heidi, 66, two Swiss crossed in front of a souvenir shop at the foot of Notre-Dame on Thursday, after Covid-19 left them They come to Paris “every year for 30 years” before being denied this pleasure. They rediscover the capital with all smiles, even as Heidi learns that “a lot of restaurants and cafes are closed”.
For the first time in Paris, 25-year-old Anne-Marie, and her 55-year-old father Henri, who had come from Munich by train, are all more than pleased that they have overcome the pandemic without leaving Bavaria. Insatiable to monuments, Anne-Marie, who did not wish to give her name, does not forget her mask for a visit to the Louvre. “I work in a hospital, I’m very careful”.
Coming from Namur with a group of friends, Helen, whom she met on le Saint-Louis, no longer thinks about the virus at all, but “catches up” on lost time. “We find ourselves like children with feathers on their backs”, says the Belgian septuagenarian, who had not been to Paris for two decades and discovered it “much more pedestrian, more pleasant, less wild”. Huh.
To enter in front of the cathedral under construction, on the Bateau-Mouche in Pont-Neuf, or between the four pillars of the Eiffel Tower, it is the same effect: an enthusiastic and enthusiastic crowd has resumed their good old habits.
– before easter –
“The return of tourists began at the end of February, but it is especially from a week before Easter”, confirms Leo Razzaz, whose number of focaccias sold on cargo bikes on Thursday at the Place du Palais-Royal stood, has tripled. from the end of March.
With 20% more tourists than in 2019, “without Russians or Asians”, Jean-François Rial, president of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau (OTCP), stressed BFM business on Wednesday, the Easter weekend marked an important part in the reunification. Marked turning point. Filling hotels up to 82%. The Eiffel Tower recorded 22,000 visitors daily, which is very close to its maximum capacity.
On this Easter weekend, North Americans were nearly the same as before the pandemic (-2%), Europeans too (-8%), underscoring the OTCP for whom “these dynamics must continue”.
Thus, in July, European tourists should be in greater numbers in the capital than in 2019, while the return of Americans to “pre-pandemic amounts”, staggered, could be post-summer, the OTCP estimates.
At the Eiffel Tower, in addition to the return of the Americans, we note a “renationalisation” of “visitors” with a quarter of French visitors, twice as many as before the crisis, underlines Jean-François Martins, the company’s president of operations. . (set).
– A “more flexible” tourism? ,
In the absence of Russian tourists, blocked by the Ukrainian conflict, and Asians, who are emerging much more cautiously from the pandemic, this increase is “all the more interesting because it is based on the return of more local tourism, French and European”, according to Paris. The town hall is full of Frédéric Hockquardt, deputy (Génération.s) in charge of tourism.
Fewer arrivals by plane, more by train, longer stays and “better distributed in the region”: for Anne Hidalgo’s deputy, the end of the crisis is approaching “more sustainable tourism and therefore more flexible, more flexible in time”. have the opportunity. of crisis”.
With the establishment of a Limited Traffic Zone (ZTL) in 2024, Mr Hocquard thus wants to “reduce tourist bus space in Paris”, but also to “help hotels connect to central air conditioning” or set up bike parks. to compensate for the “over-affluent” western districts, or even to “promote the establishment of hotels in the east of the city”.
Exemplifying this desire to “avoid excessive concentration of tourists at the same time and in one place”, Mr Rial now claims an “alternative Paris”. On the tourism office’s website, for example, reviews of the best neighborhoods for street-art frescoes encourage you to cross the ring road to Vitry-sur-Seine or Saint-Denis.
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