Paris, France Β | Fri, August 28, 2020 Β | Β 07:26 pm

Tourism in Paris, one of the most visited cities in the world, has plummeted due to coronavirus, sparking fears of mass closures for thousands of businesses dependent on hopeful domestic and foreign visitors, its senior regional official said Thursday.

In the first six months of 2020, fourteen million fewer visitors visited the French capital compared with last year, said Valerie Pecresse, president of Ile-de-France (Paris region).

“Tourism is an extremely valuable economic activity for Ile-de-France, representing 500,000 jobs and 7 to 8 per cent of regional production,” said Pecresse at a press conference.

“We have been announcing record number of tourists for the last four years. So it is with great sorrow that we have seen the pandemic break an incredibly competitive and thriving market,” added Pecresse.

The revenue generated by tourism dropped from 10.2 billion euros (12 billion dollars) in the same timeframe last year to 3.8 billion euros (4.5 billion dollars) in the first six months of 2020.

As many aircraft remain grounded and long-haul flights are restricted, the city of lights was visited by 68 percent fewer foreign tourists, while the drop for national tourists was 54 per cent.

Tourists from abroad prefer to spend twice to three times as much as those living in France, which means the decline in income has been so much sharper.

One of the biggest attractions in Paris, the Louvre Museum, said it had received 75% fewer tourists in July and 60 per cent fewer tourists in August compared to the same months in 2019.

Nearly eighty per cent of those who came were from France, up in other years from about 20 to 25 per cent.

Half of companies in the Paris area expect business to increase by the end of October, thanks to French customers and visitors from neighboring European countries.

But the 80 per cent decline in long-haul flight reservations means that many businessmen remain cautious.

Pecresse maintained that Paris was a safe destination, saying she was dismayed to hear that Germany and Belgium had called the city a dangerous destination.

The region of Ile-de-France is working on a health safety label which includes very strict measures to reassure foreign tourists, Pecresse added.

On Thursday, French Prime Minister Jean Castex declared that face masks would become mandatory in Paris following a increase in cases.

Masks are now mandatory for public transport around the country and in most enclosed public spaces.

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