Paris remains draw for Chinese tourists

By Li Ruohan in Beijing and Yao Meng in Paris Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-18 19:38:01

Shopping centers, tourist attractions crowded as always

Tourists line up at the Louvre in Paris on Monday, days after the November 13 terrorist attacks in the city. Photo: Xinhua

 Many Chinese tourists in Paris have decided not to cancel their visits in the City of Light after Islamist gunmen and bombers killed at least 129 people there on Friday, according to several Chinese travel agencies reached by the Global Times.

Most of the tourist groups in Paris continued with their plans, and only a few groups returned to China.

"It's like only one out of 10 tour groups are canceled," Xu Long, a Paris-based tour guide with over 10 years' tourism experience, told the Global Times.

Xu added that November is not a peak period for tourism, and many of the present Chinese tourists are visiting relatives, or attending exhibitions for business.

An official with the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Paris who asked to remain anonymous told the Global Times that the majority of areas in Paris are safe. The official hopes Chinese tourists will follow through with their scheduled visits.

The China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) asked Chinese travel agencies to enhance safety precautions among tour groups in France and also warned Chinese tourists not to go to areas where the attacks occurred or to places of public gathering.

Many nations, including the UK and Canada, have warned their nationals to be more cautious, but have not advised cancelling travel to France.

Tourist response 

Paris is mostly functioning as normal, and the number of Chinese shoppers at the Galeries Lafayette store and visitors at major sites remains constant, even as security checks and police patrols are enhanced, added Xu.

Another guide in Paris with the Haitao Travel Agency also told the Global Times that tour schedules for Paris will not change, although plans are open for modification if requested by clients.

"Fears and concerns went away when we arrived in Paris, because of the security measures," a 40-something female Chinese visitor told the Global Times Wednesday.

"Paris is probably the safest place to be - everywhere you look there are people with guns," NBC quoted a 36-year-old English visitor as saying. "It's nice to be here and ... let the terrorists know they're not winning."

However, concerns have driven away some potential visitors. 

A director with BTG International Travel and Tours surnamed Ma told the Global Times that inquiries into travel to Paris shrank after the incident, and the trend will continue until Christmas and Spring Festival, traditional peak periods for Paris to receive Chinese tourists.

"Many clients have changed their original plan to go to Paris," Zhuge Hong, vice-general manager of a Beijing travel agency providing custom service to high-end customers, told the Global Times Tuesday.

Surprisingly, experienced travel experts added that a few clients, mostly sophisticated adventurers, have decided to go to Paris after the attack, because costs are low, and hotels are less crowded.

Carry on, Paris

"There is no problem for tourists to come to France and to travel as long as they have their passport and visa for security checks," Axel Cruau, the French consul general in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"We understand if you do not want to come to France now, but we also need your support at the moment," Cruau added. "If Chinese tourists keep coming to France, we will take it as a sign of support and friendship."

Security has been enhanced because the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) will be held in Paris from November 30 to December 11, when dozens of heads of state will gather in Paris.

French soldiers have been patrolling around tourist sites including the Louvre Museum and Eiffel Tower as it reopened on Monday. Paris reopened many of its iconic tourist sites on Monday, Xinhua reported Tuesday.

All entry points to France have implemented systematic checks after a national state of emergency was declared for three months, according to a summary on travel advice to France on the UK government's website updated on Tuesday.

A total of 40 Chinese tour groups and 1,299 Chinese tourists were staying in Paris on Friday, according to the CNTA, the Xinhua News Agency reported Saturday.

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