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Following the terrorist attacks in Paris last weekend, recent tourism statistics released find that many—but not all—Chinese tourists are canceling and altering their visits to France.
The weak euro has made Paris a popular destination with Chinese shoppers this year, even in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack that occurred last January. France was expected to receive over 2 million Chinese tourists this year, up from 1.7 million last year. However, the recent attacks, as well as Wednesday’s Saint-Denis raid, fake bomb threats against Air France flights, and an evacuation of Galeries Lafayette on a false alarm have deterred many Chinese travelers.
In the wake of the attacks, the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) advised Chinese travel agencies to take extra caution with tour groups in France, and warned Chinese tourists to avoid the places where the attacks occurred and large public gatherings. Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy in Paris, like many other foreign embassies, issued a security alert calling on Chinese nationals to stay indoors as an estimated 1,300 Chinese tourists were present in Paris on the Saturday after the attacks occurred. Travel agencies in China have also provided emergency contingency plans, providing full refunds for Chinese tourists who wish to cancel already-booked trips. Ctrip called all tourists with tours booked for Paris before November 21, suggesting they cancel or change their tours.
Travel agencies, hotels, and airlines are reporting decreased demand to travel to Paris from Chinese travelers. Representatives from several travel agencies noted that clients are changing their plans to go to Paris in a recent Global Times article, while Reuters reported that Ctrip saw many Chinese tourists in Paris divert their trip to Switzerland after the attacks. By November 14, Ctrip had offered a full refund to over 200 tourists.
The attacks haven’t deterred all Chinese travelers, however. Global Times found that a majority of Chinese tourists actually haven’t canceled their trips to France, with one Paris-based Chinese tour guide saying only about one in every 10 tour groups are canceling. It also reports that some more seasoned Chinese travelers are opting to plan trips in the near future, citing lower prices and less-crowded attractions.
The weak euro will likely continue to attract Chinese shoppers to Europe, especially during the upcoming Christmas and Chinese New Year holiday period, but experts believe that more travelers will likely opt to head to Germany and less-visited European cities.
Meanwhile, France is encouraging Chinese tourists to visit as security is ramped up across the city and on major airlines flying into Paris. “We understand if you do not want to come to France now, but we also need your support at the moment,” Axel Cruau, the French consul general in Shanghai, told Global Times. ”If Chinese tourists keep coming to France, we will take it as a sign of support and friendship.”