Bomb threats and violent protests shake France tourism’s foundations

In the wake of two significant events, Paris finds itself grappling with security and image concerns, affecting its position as a sought-after tourist destination. While the Eiffel Tower faced a temporary closure following a bomb threat, the French tourism sector has been hit hard due to a series of violent protests instigated by the tragic police shooting of a teenager named Nahel.

The iconic Eiffel Tower was briefly closed to the public after receiving a bomb threat, which led to the evacuation of visitors from all its three levels. This incident saw a swift response by SETE, the body responsible for the tower’s operations, as they brought in bomb disposal experts to assess and manage the situation. Fortunately, the alert was lifted after a few hours, and normalcy was restored.

In another part of Paris, the death of Nahel during a traffic stop led to nationwide protests. Hotels and restaurants, the backbone of the French tourism industry, are now reporting increased cancellations and have suffered damages due to the unrest. Thierry Marx, president of the primary association for hotel and catering industry employers, expressed deep concerns over these developments, noting how establishments had faced attacks, looting, and significant property damage.

Marx urges authorities to take stringent measures to ensure the safety of people working in the hospitality sector. The French retail federation (FCD) also chimed in, demanding reinforced police security around retail establishments, with managing director Jacques Creyssel highlighting the massive financial implications of these riots.

The GHR organization, representing independent hotels and restaurants, voiced concerns over the skewed portrayal of Paris in foreign media, emphasizing how images of the city ablaze do not reflect the true reality on the ground. Notably, Franck Trouet of GHR points out the potential impact on tourists from Asia, who, given their security sensitivities, might reconsider their travel plans.

Adding to this, Didier Arino from Protourisme explained that while regular tourists like Belgians or the British might understand the context, the net impact could be likened to a negative publicity campaign costing France millions of euros. Amidst all this, concerns over the smooth organization of the forthcoming Olympic Games are also rising, especially considering that many events are scheduled in the Seine-Saint-Denis area, noted for its challenges.