Skip to comments.France hit by tourist boycott
Posted on 04/16/2003 2:47:21 PM PDT by knighthawk
JACQUES Chiracs opposition to the war in Iraq and the desecration of Allied graves by anti-British vandals have ended Frances reign as the UKs favourite holiday destination.
A loss of 300,000 visitors and a 25 per cent drop in bookings in a month mean Spain is now officially Britains top tourist venue after 14 years in second place.
The French presidents anti-war stance and the "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" factor in the United States has also caused a decline in the number of US tourists. Tension between the UK and France increased two weeks ago when protesters desecrated a cemetery in northern France, daubing memorials with graffiti.
Holidaymakers are actively boycotting France, according to Holidaylets.net, which has 2,000 homes to rent.
Internet searches for France have dropped significantly, according to Ross Hugo, the managing director, who said his sales teams have indicated French attitudes, and the unsavoury incident involving Second World War graves had hardened attitudes.
"Our understanding is that this [drop[ is due to political tensions," he added.
Around 12.6 million Britons have visited Spain in the last year while visits to France fell to 11.7 million from more than 12 million. Owen Davies, the marketing director of the Individual Travellers Company, said: "Spain has held up well but France is down."
A spokeswoman for the French tourist office in London admitted UK bookings were "sluggish" and that there had been a downturn in US visitors.
But some British companies are describing the "downturn" as a drastic decline.
And Chez Nous, a leading seller of French accommodation, has had cancellations since the war began, where customers said Mr Chiracs "obstruction" was the reason.
Another French firm - Bonnes Vacances Direct - said anti-French media coverage had noticeably affected inquiries.
Marcelle Spell, of Holiday-rentals.com, added: "If a third of French people - as reports have suggested - wanted Saddam to win, and they go on desecrating war graves, then there may be a bad reaction."
By the time the war started, the major tour operators had reduced the number of international holidays on offer by 15 per cent.
Some smaller companies took the same defensive tactic, but inevitably it has led to special deals aimed at enticing holidaymakers.
One holiday, an activity break in the Dordogne, which includes archery, sailing, abseiling and windsurfing, has been discounted by nearly £1,000.
The £1,500 holiday is on offer to a family of five for £500 for a week on full board.
As well as philosophical reasons not to travel to France, the industry worldwide has been badly affected, especially on long-haul holidays, which may need to fly over trouble spots.
Many British holidaymakers have taken a decision not to travel or at least delay their foreign holiday this year because they perceive going abroad in the present climate of global uncertainty may not be safe.
George Ellis, the chairman of Canvas holidays in Scotland, one of the major tour operators to France, said: "Short breaks and camping holidays to France are 17 per cent down and self catering is between 8 per cent and 14 per cent down.
Mr Ellis, who is also chairman of the Association of British Tour Operators to France, which has 180 member companies offering holidays, added: "Theres no doubt the Iraq war has affected the holiday trade in general.
"But, in the case of France, there are two other factors, which may help the situation. The first is that, when the events in Iraq settle, France may be viewed as a safe place to holiday because of its anti-war stand.
"Second, there are a lot of Britons who did not agree with the war against Iraq and they well be will be sympathetic to Frances attitude and decide to go there.
"That combination may produce a comeback later in the season, but as to the strength of that comeback, that is anyones guess.
"And there isnt anything to indicate that 2004 is going to be a bumper year even though things tend to settle down eventually."
A spokesperson for the French tourist office said she "was confident that France will hold its own", but she admitted her organisation had delayed a major family holiday marketing campaign for at least another month.
If people want on or off this list, please let me know.
No more Tower,
no more wine,
France is gonna
pay this time!
Maybe they are afraid of what could happen to them (eg., terrorism) in a country ruled by pussies.
This doesn't look like such a huge drop to me....
Riight... Paris was not safe before 911 and is not safe now. In fact, I suspect that the worst parts of Paris are worse than the worst parts of New York City and will get even worse as time goes on.
However, there might actually be reason to see Paris now, instead of later, if you want to see it before all of it becomes an Islamic wasteland, instead of just part.
You are right.
Between 1972 and 1993, there was a noticeable deterioration in Paris. By 1993, the last time I was there, my impression is that the number of murders and rapes per month in Paris was pretty much the number of deaths we saw in Iraq in the last month.
And yes, the sandmaggots were responsible for about 80% of it.
The 800-pound gorilla in the living room.
Groundskeeper Willie scores again!
Can't get anything past this guy.
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