Known for carrying large wads of cash, Chinese tourists in Paris have long been a major target for pickpockets, but the French government has now decided to step in and do something about it in order to make sure that cash stops going to thieves and keeps going into the country’s economy.
According to Reuters, France recently announced that it is ramping up security in tourist-heavy areas in order to crack down on rampant thefts, especially of Asian tourists. So far, extra security has been set up in the Louvre:
Interior and Tourism Ministers Manuel Valls and Sylvia Pinel said on a tour of the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower that 200 police had been put on patrol to protect tourists and steps were being taken to help foreigners prevent and report crime.
Chinese tourists in France have been especially prone to become prey to lurking criminals. The combination of their propensity for luxury shopping and limited access to non-cash payment methods while traveling has caused them to carry large amounts of money at once. They are also reportedly targeted for the fact that they pay closer attention at the museums before they hit the boutiques:
Security guards say Chinese tourists visiting France for the first time seem to get more easily distracted than more seasoned European tourists when gazing at works like the Mona Lisa.
It is true that any oblivious-looking tourist is a target, and French police have published a guide to staying safe in several other languages in addition to Chinese. However, Chinese tourists appear to be the main reason for the new policy’s implementation, as both the Chinese embassy and luxury companies have been pushing for better protection:
A group of 75 French luxury brands including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Hermes warned in May that Chinese buyers, the world’s top spenders, risk favoring London or Milan as they view Paris as dangerous.
In March, a group of 23 Chinese were robbed within hours of landing in Paris. In June, six Chinese wine-making students were assaulted in Bordeaux in an attack Valls called “xenophobic”.
The Chinese embassy has pressed French authorities in recent months to address the issue, which was also raised when Socialist President Francois Hollande last traveled to China in April to meet his counterpart Xi Jinping.
This is a smart decision for the French government, which hopes to keep its position as the number one desired travel destination for Chinese tourists. Although it’s at the top of the list now, continued high crime rates may dampen visitors’ desire to return: a recent report noted that France is only fifth on the list of Chinese travelers’ post-trip favorite locations, and less than half who visit wish to return within two years. Meanwhile, other countries such as the UK and the United States are rapidly making efforts to catch up to France as the world’s premier destination of choice for China’s jetsetters. If France wants to maintain its top spot, combatting crime should only be the start of its work in years to come.