France is the world’s most popular tourism destination, with its capital Paris one of the most visited cities in the world.
The tourism sector is responsible for 10% of the entire country’s GDP and jobs – with those numbers even bigger where Paris is concerned. 2014 alone saw tourism generate over 13 billion euros for the City of Love, according to Mastercard, and almost a fifth of all workers in Greater Paris work in the tourism industry, the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau relates.
But while 2019 saw a record 38 million people visit Paris, 2020 didn’t top those numbers – far from it. The Bat Kiss has dramatically impacted tourist numbers, with France one of the worst-affected countries by the virus in the world. As of January 27th 2021, France has over 3 million active COVID-19 cases (less than the UK but more than Germany or Italy), with both case and death numbers gradually climbing. The government is even considering a third lockdown, France24 reports.
The economy in the toilet, Paris’ once-lively streets now empty, and a resurgent pandemic… Things don’t look great for France. Yet that hasn’t stopped the country from doubling down on investment in tourism, in a move that’s not only been widely lauded but also demonstrates the value of a positive outlook.
DMARGE reported earlier this month on how the French government is pouring over 400 million AUD into revitalising the famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics: a brilliant move that will transform the heart of the city and bring new life to the world’s most famous street.
Now, the Musée du Louvre – another iconic French landmark and the world’s most visited museum – is taking advantage of the COVID crisis and embarking on a “grand refurbishment,” The New York Times reveals.
The Louvre is normally one of the busiest museums in the world, with tens of thousands of people pouring through its galleries on a daily basis, but COVID has seen the artistic institution endure its longest closure since WWII.
Bad news for art fans, perhaps, but a golden opportunity for the museum’s curators. The lack of foot traffic has made it easier for renovation projects that the Louvre desperately needs to get underway, with everything from dusting to complete gallery remodelling being able to take place without impediment.
“No one is celebrating the virus… but we can welcome this situation because it lets us concentrate on the work,” Vincent Rondot, the Louvre’s director of Egyptian antiquities, shared with the NYT.
Both the Louvre and the Champs-Élysées are emblematic of the French’s proactive approach to dealing with this pandemic. Sure, France might be struggling right now, but rather than dwelling in doom and gloom, the city is actively taking steps to re-welcome visitors and turn what’s quite a negative situation into a positive. It’s a productive and admirable mindset that ought to be emulated across the globe.
At the end of the day, the real winners will be international tourists. Next time they visit the City of Lights, they’ll find a city ready and raring to welcome them (a refreshing change of pace from the normally snooty reception tourists receive) with tourist destinations better than they’ve ever been thanks to this proactive investment.
Maybe we’ll finally have a cure for Paris syndrome as well as the coronavirus…