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French PM announces €18b plan to salvage its tourism industry
May 15, 2020
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The French government has pledged an €18 billion “Marshall plan for tourism” to save the “jewel in the crown” of the country as the coronavirus pandemic forces countries to take strict preventive measures. Other countries have put into place different strategies to promote domestic tourism, with Italy offering financial incentive to those who holiday within its borders.
Italy’s plan also includes a €4bn bailout plan for the country’s tourism industry.
Last year France had an influx of nearly 90 million foreign tourists, making it most visited country in the world.
However, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced the country into a lockdown that has shuttered 95 percent of its hotels, leaving many permanently damaged economically.
The country began easing lockdown restrictions this week, although hotels, cafes, bars, restaurants, major museums and public parks remain closed.
French citizens can travel no further tan 62 miles (100 kilometres) from their homes.
The tourism industry currently accounts for almost eight percent of the nation’s economy as well as two million job positions.
“Whatever strikes tourism strikes the heart of France,” said prime minister Edouard Philippe as he announced the measures on Thursday.
“Tourism is facing what is probably its worst challenge in modern history.
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“Because this is one of the crown jewels of the French economy, rescuing it is a national priority.”
“This very French pleasure, which is at the heart of our identity, to meet up, eat well and have a chat, has been compromised by the lockdown first, and then the conditions of lifting that lockdown,” he said.
The blueprint includes €1.3 billion in direct public investment as well as government-guaranteed loans and extended access to a “solidarity fund”.
The government strategy represents “a commitment of more than 18 billion euros in public finances: it is without precedent, it is massive, it is necessary,” he said.
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The government will continue to pay companies for 70 percent of gross wages of employees they put on furlough until at least the end of September.
Mr Edouard said that the French “will be able to holiday in France in July and August” unless there is a second spike of the outbreak.
He added that restaurants would be able to reopen on June 2 in the country’s “green zones” where the virus is not disseminating extensively.
However, under those parameter Paris would be unable to reopen restaurants as the capital is a virus “red zone”.
In Italy, families with a household income of less than €40,000 will be granted incentives for spending their holidays on Italian soil.
Families of three people or more will be entitled to €500, while couples will be given €300 and single people will receive €150.
The incentive must be used to book a holiday in Italy between July 1 and the end of the year.
The strategy is part of a series of measures worth €55 billion, introduced to help the country bounce back from the pandemic.
The outbreak has killed over 30,000 people in the Mediterranean country.
Tourism accounts for around 15 percent of Italy’s GDP, or €270 billion a year.