Paris is pinning its hopes on an influx of American tourists to bolster its flagging tourism numbers.
The French capital registered an 11.1% slump in foreign visitors in the first half of the year compared to 2008, according to new official figures.
The Paris Tourism Office said number of Americans tourists – its largest market – slumped heavily last year because of U.S. economic woes and the expensive euro. But it is now showing signs of recovery, up 1.1% in the second quarter of this year.
Paul Roll, director of the Paris Tourism Office, said told the news agency AP that the city is “counting on the Americans” to bolster tourism revenues and make up for a slide in visits by British, Japanese and Chinese tourists.
He pointed out that America’s economy was hit early and hard by the financial crisis and is expected to emerge sooner, while other economies were slower to start their slump.
The number of British visitors fell 23.4% in the first half of this year as the weakness of sterling and the UK economy took their toll.
The number of Japanese visitors to Paris fell 25.4% and Chinese tourists fell 17.3%.
Roll also highlighted a new law that allows more stores to open on Sundays, saying he hoped this would keep more tourists in Paris, and France generally, over a full weekend.
The tourism authority predicts an overall decline of 6 percent in the number of visitors to Paris in 2009, including French visitors.