December 8, 2005

France tries to improve tourist image after riots

PARIS (Reuters) - France plans to spend a million euros to
lure back foreign tourists after its image was damaged by
pictures of burning cars and angry youths shown on televisions
around the world during recent riots.

The Tourism Ministry said on Thursday it will take out
advertisements in newspapers and travel websites, with one
showing a couple embracing next to the Eiffel Tower.

The campaign will particularly target potential visitors
from United States, Japan, China, Australia and Russia who
France estimates are most sensitive to pictures of the violence
that flared up in many of France's suburbs in November.

"In terms of image, the impact was inevitably negative for
France," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said they had seen cancellations from Russia
and Japan but said that Americans took more of a wait-and-see
attitude toward their holidays.

Tourism accounted for 6.5 percent of gross domestic product
in France last year and tourist expenditure totaled 95.8
billion euros, according to government figures.

The ministry said it will take out internet spots with the
New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune and the
San Francisco Chronicle to win over the American market.

The rioting was blamed mostly on youths who feel excluded
from mainstream society and who are frustrated by racism, harsh
police treatment and high unemployment.