France travel: UK criticised over 'inconsistent' rules by MEP
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The UK has hailed the move of France from the little understood amber plus list to the amber list as good news. In France, however, there may be little rejoicing.
The latest travel restrictions update has seen several countries move up and down the traffic light system, changing colours and sending holidaymakers scrambling to buy or cancel flights.
At ADN Tourisme, the National Federation of Institutional Tourism Organisations, Deputy General Director Christophe Marchais is very clear: “There are very few Britons in France this year.”
The traffic light change will not make much difference to a country that usually sees millions of tourists come down every summer to enjoy its beaches, food and attractions.
“The traffic light change will unfortunately not make any difference to the number of Britons in France,” says Marchais, who believes summer is well underway already and most overseas tourists have already made plans for their holidays.
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He said: “The colour change will not have much impact [this late]. Most Britons will have already booked and planned their holidays, only last-minute trips may be impacted.”
Britons have seen their trips cancelled and reinstated throughout the past 18 months, with Government announcements changing many plans at the last minute.
Whether holidaymakers will brave the possibility of their holidays being cancelled once again remains to be seen, but the French tourism industry is apparently not counting on it.
The lack of enthusiasm for the new amber status of the country shouldn’t come as a surprise.
When France was moved to an amber plus list, the only country on it, the uproar made headlines.
“Excessive and incomprehensible,” said Clément Beaune, Secretary of State for European Affairs of France. The word “discriminatory” was also bandied about.
However, France received the news of the move away from amber plus and onto amber with no fanfare. A quick update on some newspapers’ websites, without comments.
France’s move to the amber list should have made a difference to the French tourism industry.
Christophe Marchais explains that “British holidaymakers are important in France, in some destinations, Britons are the majority of tourists.”
It goes further, of course, impacting the economy: “The lack of Britons in France this year impacts accommodations, tourist attractions, restaurants…”
The Government’s travel announcements may be followed closely by Britons keen to go on holidays and feel like their lives are back to pre-pandemic normalcy, but the places that are truly impacted by the announcements have somehow given up on seeing Britons this summer.
Whilst holidays in the UK are truly back, with many opting for staycations to escape the always changing rules, overseas trips are not yet what they used to be.
In France, this has serious ramifications. “French tourists won’t make up for the loss of overseas visitors,” says Marchais.
What does this mean for the French tourism industry and the country’s economy?
Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, the French Secretary of State for Tourism has mentioned €60billion of lost revenue (approximately £50billion). “2020 has been a shock.”
Pre-Covid, France was the number one destination in the world in number of international tourists, and the second favourite destination for Britons looking to holiday overseas.
This year, the French will holiday in France, and Britons will holiday in the UK, probably spending less than they would have had they been overseas.
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