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Tourism rebounds in Paris to pre-terrorism attack levels

AFP

After a dramatic downturn in visitors to the French capital over the past two years, Paris attracted as many tourists at the end of 2016 as it did before the wave of deadly terrorist attacks that hit the City of Lights.

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Tourism increased by nearly 20 percent last year, returning to pre-terrorism levels, according to figures by the French capital’s official tourism office.

Tourism was one of the collateral victims of jihadist attacks that devastated the city, starting in January 2015 with the deadly Charlie Hebdo shooting. Islamist terrorism shattered the city in November 2015 when gunmen attacked Paris bars and restaurants, the Bataclan concert hall, and the Stade de France sports arena on the outskirts of the city.

French nationals, especially business travellers, are largely responsible for the increase, data showed. But international visitors are also coming back in record numbers.
Despite the understandable dip in the wake of the violence, tourism from the United States and China has now even surpassed the levels seen before the attacks. Visits from the US rose by 25 percent, and from China by 41 percent, the data for 2016 showed.

“There have never been so many American and Chinese people checking into hotels in the Paris region,” the Paris tourism office said.

In another public relations win, Paris was declared the world’s top student city by the website Top Universities.

Tourism officials nevertheless admitted they were struggling to win back certain nationalities. There were 35 percent fewer tourists from Italy, and more than 50 percent less from Japan, as compared to pre-attack levels.

 

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