Sunday opening to boost tourism

Foreign minister calls for shops to open longer in key tourist areas as he unveils plan to attract 100million visitors

MORE shops in France’s major cities could soon open on a Sunday, if foreign minister Laurent Fabius has his way.

Sunday opening is a key block of the government’s 30-point plan to tempt 100 million tourists a year to France.

In 2012, 83 million people visited the country.

The subject has been a recurring theme in the tourism debate. Industry professionals have argued for greater flexibility in main tourist areas, while unions have fought to keep Sunday as “a day of rest”..

Speaking at the Tourism Conference in Paris this morning, Mr Fabius said: “Tourism is the largest industry in the world, representing 12% of global GDP and more than 200 million jobs.”

In France, tourism accounts for 7.3% of GDP.

"I think we can set a goal that is both simple and inspiring: we must have the ambition to be the leading [tourist country] in the world."

Mr Fabius has previously called for shops to cater better to tourists. Today, he pledged to launch talks with interested parties to ensure that the scheme goes ahead as quickly as possible.

"The logic is simple: a disgruntled tourist is a tourist who does not come back," he said..

Other schemes include a Charles De Gaulle Express, connecting the airport and Gare du Nord, as well as an improved focus on areas of tourism at which France excels, such as gastronomy, sport, and ecotourism.

See also: Ban on late-night shopping upheld

Photo: Luis Tamayo