New measures in support of tourism
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France has been the world’s top tourist destinations since the 1980s. Tourism activity makes a major contribution to the economy and is a vector of the Republic’s attractiveness and influence. Despite the events France recently lived through, it has managed to remain the leading destination worldwide, with some 85 million foreign tourists (as against 83.8 in 2014), 80% of whom come from Europe.
Nonetheless, although France has succeeded in rising above the attacks, a downturn in foreign tourism has been noted, with an impact on tourists from more distant regions, North America and Asia in particular.
A France that attracts
In France, tourism accounts for 7.5% of national wealth and almost two million jobs. It makes a positive contribution to the country’s balance of trade (+6.8 billion euros in 2015) and, in addition to its considerable economic importance, is a tremendous vector of the nation’s attractiveness and influence. It is in the same context that support must also be given to development of domestic tourism, which accounts for two thirds of total tourism revenue.
Along with implementation of structural measures designed to improve the offer and redefine strategies for promoting the country, temporary economic support measures also remain necessary. This is why emergency measures to support actors in the sector and reinforce promotion were implemented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, following the meetings of the Emergency Economic Committee on Tourism on 13 July and 13 September, and in the context of the Minister of the Economy’s economic continuity unit.
The Interministerial Committee meeting held on 7 November 2016 marked a new step in the Government’s mobilisation and commitment on behalf of the tourism sector.
New commitments with a €42.7 million plan
15.5 million euros to reinforce safety
- 10 million euros for the Interministerial Fund for Prevention of Delinquency (FIPD) to improve security in tourism areas, mainly through installation of video-protection equipment.
- 4 million euros for the Live Entertainment Emergency Fund, which has proved itself effective in reinforcing security at festivals in 2016.
- Reinforcement of the “PARAFE II” Automated Fast Track Crossing at External Schengen Borders. The PARAFE (Passage automatisé rapide aux frontières extérieures) system, combined with biometric authentication technology based on fingerprints, simplifies border-crossing formalities. 87 new PARAFE terminals will be installed at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle Airport by 2020.
- Setup of a tourism safety coordination structure in each département. Under the authority of départemental prefects, it will bring together the départemental Director of Public Safety and the Commander of the départemental Gendarmerie and, along with professional tourism organisations, public and private operators of tourist sites and transporters, will decide upon appropriate security measures requiring implementation.
10.5 million euros to reinforce promotional actions targeting tourists
- Extra resources allocated to Atout France to carry out targeted actions aimed at international markets in collaboration with local authorities and private actors, extending communication actions on internet and social networks to improve the e-reputation of “Destination France”.
- Communication scheme deployed by the Government Information Service (SIG) to carry out actions on social networks targeting French tourists. A digital scheme making use of social networks, it is funded by the SIG and scheduled for implementation in the first half of 2017, with a series of communications corresponding to the periods during which French citizens decide where to spend their holidays.
11 million euros to support tourism sector professionals and employees
- Subsidising loans to support modernisation of hotel-café-restaurant (HCR) sector professionals, to the tune of 1.75 million euros.
- Facilitating recourse to partial activity (authorisations have already risen from 12 to 18.5 million euros, a 30% increase).
- Cofinancing skills development actions with 3.3 million euros.
- Simplification measures for the commercial sector: maintenance of the €15,000 threshold for cash payment for luxury items purchased by non-residents and launch of a study on relaxation of tax refund rules for international tourists.
5.7 million euros to encourage less well-off French citizens to go on holiday
- As part of its social policy, the ANCV (National Holiday Voucher Agency) is offering (non-taxable) aid to departure for low-income retirees to 70,000 individuals in 2016. The Interministerial Committee decided to support the programme with an allocation of 5.7 million euros, enabling 30,000 more low-income pensioners to go on holiday in 2017.
- Developing use of holiday vouchers. Under the provisions of the 2017 PLFSS (draft social security financing law), the exemptions from social contributions that holiday vouchers benefit from are reconfirmed. Implementation of holiday vouchers for unsalaried workers and home-based employees will be speeded up and promoted in the eyes of these latter audiences.
17 November 2016, the Annual Tourism Conference to go still further
France’s many assets must nonetheless be cultivated and developed in the face of ever more lively competition. France only ranks third as regards tourism revenue, after the United States and Spain. Introduction of a strategy is therefore of major importance to the Republic as a whole.
The second Annual Tourism Conference, organised by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, will be held on 17 November. It will provide an opportunity for tourism professionals, hoteliers and reservation platforms to announce new measures for the benefit of their clientele, demonstrating the commitment of all parties, professionals and public authorities alike, to the service of French tourism.