International tourists have not visited France this summer, causing losses of €30-40 billion, the junior tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne has said.
In an interview with news source Le Journal du Dimanche, Mr Lemoyne discussed the impact of Covid-19 on tourism in France this summer.
He said: “In normal circumstances, tourism generates €180 billion, €60 billion of which comes from international tourism. The immediate impact of the epidemic is [losses of] at least €30-40 billion.”
Ha added that many tourism operators in France expected to have lost 20-25% of their income by the end of the year.
One factor which has reduced losses, according to Mr Lemoyne, is that many French residents chose to holiday in France this summer.
According to the minister, France normally welcomes 17 million international tourists each summer, while nine million French residents travel overseas for their holidays. This year 70% of French tourists stayed at home, meaning it has so far been possible “to save the fundamental [parts of the French tourism industry]”.
Rise in Covid-19 cases poses further threat
Mr Lemoyne was optimistic about the potential for international visitors to return, saying that the numbers of European travellers planning to visit France in September was higher than in July and August.
However, he did acknowledge that international demand for travel in France was still “fragile” and being hampered by rising incidences of Covid-19.
“As soon as a new [Covid-19] cluster appears there is an immediate effect on holiday cancellations and reservations,” he said.
Countries have been quick to respond to rises in cases in France with travel restrictions, which may further cripple the tourism industry.
On August 1, Belgium banned non-essential travel to and from some parts of France, with tests and quarantines also advised for arrivals from many other areas of the country.
Norway introduced a 10-day quarantine for arrivals from France on August 6.
There are now fears that the UK may also reintroduce quarantine measures for travel to and from France, as it has already done for Spain, Luxembourg, Belgium and Andorra.
Covid-19 circulation increasing rapidly in France
The latest weekly figures from national health body Santé Publique France (released on August 6) showed that 7,565 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the week of July 27 - August 2 in France.
This was a 33% increase on the previous week (July 20-26) in which 5,695 people tested positive. However, figures from the previous week (July 20-26) already showed a 56% increase on the week before that.
Since the end of July daily numbers have been above 1,000 in France. The latest figures show that 1,695 cases were identified on August 5 and 1,604 were identified on August 6.
In order to slow the spread of the virus wearing a mask in public places has now been made mandatory in many French towns and cities, including parts of Paris (Ile-de-France), Nice, Marseille (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur), and Toulouse (Occitanie).
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